Will Sri Lanka lose Colombo Port to India like Air Lanka?

 

The Government was elected on a mandate promising not to sell the national assets and resources of the country. Whatever, MoUs or MoCs are cited as excuses, we do not owe any explanation to India for breaking any bilateral agreements as India is master at violating such agreements. Indo-Lanka Accord is one such broken agreement. Attorney Kalyananda Tiranagama has made an excellent comparison that privatization of Colombo Port will result in what happened to Air Lanka which ended up rechristened as Sri Lankan Airlines. It was President Rajapakse who bought back Sri Lankan Airlines but at the cost to the tax payer. We do not want to see any more sale of national asset simply because Port Management cannot turn around a strategic asset with potential to develop. Change the management and bring a new team but there is no requirement to hand over Colombo Port to foreigners for they will remain in Sri Lanka until they get more than their investment while whatever money they give will vanish into thin air with no dividends to Sri Lanka.

Corrupt politicians and public officials do not care what they barter. Sri Lanka lost its national carrier to Emirates. Now we are at the brink of losing our best commercial Port to a country Sri Lankans has every right to feel concerned about. Geographically neighbors but historically, Sri Lanka has had not too many nice things to remember India by though the cultural links continue to hold us together as well as the bounds that Buddhists-Hindus share.

None the less, as citizens we do not wish to see what happened to Air Lanka happen to Colombo Port.

We are regularly seeing visits by foreign dignitaries and foreign economic experts who wish governments and corrupt public officials to present loss-making state entities as justification to privatize.

Why would any foreign company wish to invest in a loss making company or entity unless it sees huge potential in turning around the loss to profits. Thus, if any state entity is making losses even if it is doctored to do so, then the first thing a Government must do is to change the Management Team and put into charismatic and innovative locals with targets to turn around the entity. The easy answer is to hand over to foreign investors simply because they present on paper some very handsome looking figures which ultimately do not end up in the State Treasury while part of the deal ends up having to give tax holidays, incentives and what not. In the end, no proper quantitate study has been done on what foreign investors have actually invested, what Sri Lanka has given them in lieu of their investment, what they have taken out of the country against what they have given Sri Lanka as well as any environmental or other damage and hazards they may have caused? Has the State done any research on the many foreign investments since 1979 and what Sri Lanka has gained from them?

This should be a task for the research units in universities too.

In 1998 the Chandrika Bandaranaike Government sold 40% of Air Lanka to Emirates for $70million for a 10year management control contract. Emirates increased its stake to 43.6% by acquiring more shares from employees. Emirates also secured competition guarantees that included exclusive rights to air routes. By 2008, Emirates valued its holding at $150m

In 2010 the Mahinda Rajapakse Government bought back all 43.6% shares belonging to Emirates for $53million.

How Sri Lanka lost the best deal

https://www.consultants21.com/pdf/Pillage%20of%20Plantations/AL8.pdf

Sri Lanka plans full privatization – June 2004

https://www.flightglobal.com/sri-lanka-plans-full-privatisation/54655.article

Sri Lankan Govt gave up majority ownership of national carrier Sri Lankan Airlines after partial privatization in 1998.

UNF Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama claimed Sri Lanka would sell its 51% stake.

Ironically, UNF opposed sale of Air Lanka while it was in opposition.

https://fb.watch/2ORGdFxB9K/– Kalyananda Tiranagama against sale of ECT to India

With the above background knowledge of how politicians and public officials bartered away Air Lanka, we cannot allow the same to happen to Colombo Port, in particular if it is to fall into Indian hands and that too to a controversial Port Operator who is under investigation even by Indian and Australian authorities.

With Management Control given to India and the controversial Port Operator, what will happen to the locals working inside the Port?

Do we not know what India did to Nepal during the economic blockade simply because Nepal refused to insert clauses into Nepals’ constitution as per India’s demands. With Sri Lanka also dabbling with a new constitution, we are likely to see repeat blockade that Nepal witnessed when we are handing over our Port to India! This is inviting hara kiri and inviting trouble.

We are not going to be seeing any development with India given Colombo Port, that much we can be certain of. If so, we may as have Colombo Port in its present state without handing it over to India.

The National Joint Committee has issued a very strong statement to the Government to refrain from entering into any agreement with India to hand over the Colombo Port.

Yes, India is our neighbor, yes India has ancient links with Sri Lanka – we have honored that and we have maintained that, but never has Sri Lanka tried to destabilize India, which is nothing India can confidently say about Sri Lanka. Whatever, nicely worded statements India delivers, there is a black past that India stands guilty of and that extends to present as well.

The requests made to the GoSL is by people who look ahead and see the dangers in store for Sri Lanka. Politicians change from one term to next, public officials the worst corrupt are never put on trial for their public treacheries, but it is always the citizens who have to suffer the losses for the shortsighted decisions of governments coming to power.

A strong mandate has been given. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country. We do not need to be taking orders from any country, if so we shouldn’t be even celebrating independence.

All of Sri Lanka’s national assets and resources must belong to the State. We must make sure any foreign investments are negotiated to Sri Lanka’s advantage not to appease the foreigners, because they are making investments to reap the best out of Sri Lanka, no one is doing any favors!

Shenali Waduge



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