Sri Lankan businessman will be first to invest in Hambantota zone: PM

Jan 09, 2017 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan investor will be the first businessman investing in the proposed Hambantota economic zone, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said. Wickramasinghe told Parliament today they have discussed development plans worth 5,000 million dollars in the area.
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“First investment will come from a Sri Lankan. It’s for a cement plant in Hambantota,” Wickremesinghe said. He said China has pledged other investments such as an oil refinery, LNG power plant, dockyard and another cement plant. “We are currently discussing with US and Arab companies to set up another oil refinery there.” The joint opposition and the JVP have protested against the land acquisition, insisting on the use of existing land allocated for the factories. A special committee has also been set up to decide on the acquisition of lands for the proposed zone which includes former Speaker and Parliamentarian Chamal Rajapaksa. “There is already a land allocated for this purpose by the previous government,” Rajapaksa told Parliament. “If it is not sufficient it is possible to get more suitable lands without harming people in that area.” Rajapaksa also requested Prime Minister to consider the agreement entered in 2014 between SLPA and China Habour Company which deals with transferring only operations of the port to a new firm. Responding to that Wickremesinghe said China Habour Company earlier withdrew their proposal possibly following an agreement with the Chinese government. “When we asked President Xi about this he said choose the better one from China Habour and China Merchant,” Wickremesinghe said. “After we selected, China Habour withdrew what they sent us earlier. I think it may be an agreement with the Chinese government.”
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