Dec 12, 2016 (LBO) – The government will not privatize or sell off any of the public asset and there were no provisions made under the Budget-2017 to this effect, the Finance Minister said.
“The Budget-2017 has made provision to convert the country into a manufacturing economy by converting the foreign debt into equity thereby reducing the debt burden of the people of this country,” said Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake.
“The biggest challenge the country faced was the debt trap which made the country unaffordable to bring any return on its development.”
As a result the government’s revenue gradually deteriorated to an average of 11 percent of the GDP by 2014.
With the increased efficiency and eradiation of corruption in the revenue collection, the state revenue has increased to 13.6 percent of the GDP thus making it possible to meet the recurrent expenses, he said.
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, he added.
Previously the land at the Army Headquarters at Galle face and a land at Hambanthota had been given as a freehold to a foreign company to construct Hotel complex.
Though there was a 100 percent levy on land purchased by foreigners these two hotels had been given exemptions, Karunanayake 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 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.”