Port TU leader gives the nod | Sunday Observer
Plans to hand over WCT to India

Port TU leader gives the nod

31 January, 2021

Chairman of the Independent Port Services Trade Union, (PSTU) Lal Bangamuwage, said that they do not oppose the proposal to hand over the West Container Terminal (WCT) to India if it is favourable to Sri Lanka.

Bangamuwage said they have agreed to the proposal of handing over the WCT as it complies with an agreement endorsed between the two nations.

“But Sri Lanka has to have 100 percent ownership over the East Container Terminal (ECT),” he said. Trade unions are currently engaged in a trade union action protesting against the handing over of 49 percent ownership of the ECT to foreign entities. Bangamuwage said that their work to rule campaign is continuing successfully.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera refuted allegations that the Government was planning to submit a Cabinet paper tomorrow (1) to hand over the ECT to an Indian company.

“The Government has not made a final decision on whether to hand over the ECT to an Indian or any other company. Some have said that a Cabinet paper on this matter would be presented next Monday. We are not aware of any such Cabinet paper.

“Now everyone is talking about who owns 49 percent. But 51 percent clearly belongs to the country. There is no question as to who will have the 49 percent.

The Government has not yet reached any decision to sell or lease the ECT of the Colombo Port to a private company,” he told a media gathering in Colombo.

Earlier, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured that the ECT would not be sold or leased. A media release from the President’s Media Division stated that the previous administration had agreed to sell the ECT to India.

The agreement envisaged obtaining a loan from Japan after the sale and purchasing construction equipment with the loan money.

The President said after the present Government negotiated with India on the contract it was possible to reach an agreement to retain 51 percent of the ownership and the control of the Terminal placed with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).

The authorities formulated a plan to develop the terminal as an investment project that has 51 percent ownership by the Government of Sri Lanka and the remaining 49 percent as an investment by India’s Adani Group and other stakeholders.

Head of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation Basil Rajapaksa said the expansion of operations in the ECT would create a large number of job opportunities.

However, Port trade unions have vehemently opposed to hand over even a small percentage of the ECT to a foreign owner. They said that the SLPA needed to have complete ownership of the terminal.