Suspended Mega Chinese Project Had No Cabinet Approval: SL Minister
COLOMBO: The State-owned Chinese company which was executing the US $ 1.4 billion Colombo Port City project, has not produced, till date, the cabinet approval and a crucial environmetal clearance certificate pertaining to the project, Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has revealed.
The ambitious project, meant to be part of China's 21 st Century Maritime Silk Road, was suspended by the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government on the grounds that it was bristling with irregularities.
"The Chinese company has produced everything but these documents," the Minister told the Foreign Correspindents' Asdociation here on Thursday.
He was asked if the project is getting off the ground following a series of engagements with the Chinese government in Colombo and Beijing at the foreign Ministers' as well as the Presidential level.
Asked what would be the penalty if Lanka cancels the project, Karunanayake said that Colombo would have to pay LKR 12 billion (US$ 90 million) and also reimburse the cost of the work already done (which is not much).
He however pointed out that other Chinese-funded projects (mainly highways) are being implemented.
Earlier, the cabinet spokesman, Rajitha Senaratne, told newspersons that the Chinese projects would eventually go through.
Asked about economic relations with India, Karunanayake said that they are "super" after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Sri Lanka.
India-Lanka cooperation is evisaged in a variety of fields, particulary shipping,agriculture and in tracing black money stashed away overseas, he said.
The Tata project to build a housing complex for the low income group in Colombo has been resumed after sorting out minor issues, he said.
On the Lankan domestic political situation, Karunanayake said that the bureaucracy is acting on its own, unmindful of,and disregarding the political authorities.He attributed this defiant attitude to the current political situation in which the United National Party (UNP), which is heading the government, does not have a parliamentary majority, and its coalition partner, the SLFP faction headed by President Maithripala Siridena, is also in a minority in parliament.