Sri Lanka hands over Hambantota to China
Colombo/Sri Lanka,Dec 10: Sri Lanka has formally handed over its main southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease.
The port, near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe, is expected to play a key role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Sri Lanka received USD 292 million out of a USD 1.12 billion deal, reported Channel News Asia, citing Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, as saying.
The China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort) and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will own the port and the investment zone around it, officials said.
The Chinese firm will now hold 70-per cent-stake in a joint venture with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
Ports Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has said the government would receive another 10 per cent, or around USD 100 million, in a month and another USD 585 million in six months.
The island country owed China USD 8 billion, said former Sri Lankan finance minister Ravi Karunanayaka, last year.
“With this agreement we have started to pay back the loans,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, while addressing the handing over ceremony held in the parliament.
Chinese firm will invest an additional USD 600 million to make Hambantota port operational and USD 1.12 billion from the deal will be used for debt repayment, the report said. (ANI)