Sri Lanka Ports Authority and China Merchant Port Holdings Company Ltd on July 29 had signed not an amended agreement but the very same one presented to Parliament, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.
The PM said so responding to a question raised by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who demanded to know whether the signed agreement was an amended one. “At a meeting with the union leaders President Maithripala Sirisena said that an amended agreement would be signed. Thereafter, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said the agreement which had been signed was an amended one. He also said that there would be a clause inserted into it to the effect that the President could amend the content of the agreement. We want to know whether such a clause is there or the agreement signed was the very same one presented to Parliament.”
The Prime Minister said the signed agreement and the draft presented to Parliament were the same. The agreement was presented to parliament with the intention of introducing amendments after debating it. The China Merchant Port Holdings Company Ltd, too, had agreed to consider if there were any proposals to amend the clauses. They were willing to put off the signing by 48 hours. The Opposition, however, disrupted the debate. Had there been a debate and amendments, the Cabinet of Ministers were ready to meet in the same evening to consider them. However, there was no need for that as there was no debate. Thus, we went ahead and signed the agreement.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the demands by the unions of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the singing of agreement were not related. The CPC unions wanted the Hambantota oil tank farm for the CPC. It belonged to the Ports Authority. Not even the CPC had asked for it.