India again demands ECT
High Commissioner meets Prez, PM
Japanese Envoy meets Dinesh
The Indian Government has on Tuesday (2) insisted that the Sri Lankan Government adhere to its commitments in the tripartite agreement of May 2019 to jointly develop the strategic terminal with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) holding 51% stake, and India and Japan holding 49% together, according to India’s The Hindu newspaper.
Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena after Sri Lanka backed out of the agreement with India and Japan to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port, the newspaper said quoting “official sources”.
“The thrust of the Indian Envoy’s message to the Sri Lankan leadership, sources said, was that Colombo must adhere to its commitments in the tripartite agreement of May 2019 to jointly develop the strategic terminal with the SLPA holding 51% stake, and India and Japan holding 49% together,” it said.
The Adani Group from India, along with Japanese companies, was to invest in the project, which was expected to cost up to $ 700 million, as per official estimates.
The Indian side, it is learnt, conveyed that the signals emanating from Sri Lanka should boost the confidence of potential investors. President Rajapaksa has pledged to draw foreign direct investments to the country, rather than take loans.
Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akira Sugiyama met with Gunawardena yesterday (3) to discuss a range of matters relevant to the bilateral partnership.
These high-level meetings follow in the wake of the said decision taken by the Sri Lankan Government’s Cabinet of Ministers stating that the operation of the ECT would be “100%” with the SLPA, while the West Container Terminal would be offered to India instead for development, on a 35-year arrangement. The shareholding that has been proposed is 85% to 15% in India’s favour, which is identical to the shareholding China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPH) enjoys in Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) of the Colombo Port.
The Cabinet decision came subsequent to protests extending over several months by port workers’ unions opposed to foreign shareholding in the ECT.