MR’s allegation that govt is selling off assets is malicious: Ravi

Dec 07, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s government  rejects allegations made by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa that the government is selling off national assets, the Finance minister said.

“This government is making meaningful endeavours to convert the infrastructure facilities constructed by the previous government at colossal cost with foreign loans,” Ravi Karunanayake, minister of finance said in a statement.

“The previous government put the nation in a debt trap making the country unaffordable to bring any returns on its development.”

The cost for Hambanthota Port and Mattala Airport initially made as unsolicited proposals were later doubled at the time of implementation.

As a result, Karunanayake says the government’s revenue gradually deteriorated to an average of 11 percent of GDP.

“Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during his recent visit to China held successful discussion with Chinese authorities to convert these credits into equity.”

“Accordingly, the Hambanthota Port which failed to bring return on its huge investment will be converted in to a joint venture between the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China with the equity of over one billion US dollars.”

This will enable the government to retire a sizeable portion of the loan obtained for the Hambanthota Port.

Similarly, Mattala Airpot, Srilankan Airlines and Hambanthota Investment zone will have Public Private Partnership Investment (PPP) without selling off or privatizing any assets of the nation as alleged by former President and his allies which is malicious and misleading.

After the budget – 2017 was presented in Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa has unleashed another canard to say that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is to be privatized, he said.

At the time the government has taken the steps to convert the country into a manufacturing economy all stake holders representing all sectors of the economy have hailed the budget as a positive step towards it. The government perceives these acts by former President as malicious and misleading attempts with an ulterior motive to jeopardize the economic development of the country.

“In- fact the assets of this nation was sold off to foreigners during the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa,”

“The land of the Army Headquarters at Galle face and a land at Hambanthota  were given as a freehold to a foreign company to construct Hotel complex. At that time there was a 100 percent levy on land purchased by foreigners.”

But this was waived off by the previous government at the behest of the then Minister Basil Rajapaksa, he said.

“In addition, at the Colombo Port city the then government not only gave the foreign company the portion of reclaimed land as freehold but also excluded it from the Sri Lankan jurisdiction as well,”

“But no sooner this government came into office it took the initiative to retake the land given freehold to China bringing them under the Sri Lankan jurisdiction.”