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MoU on Hambantota Port handover nearing finalisation: Malik

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The Government is to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Hambantota port with the Chinese consortium by January with the document being finalised soon.

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama disclosed on Friday that 95% of the plans have been finalised. “We have more or less concluded our plans. The MOU will be finalised by end November leading to its signing in January,” the Minister told the Ernst & Young post-Budget Forum.

He said at present Hambantota port is being valued and the figure is likely to be between $ 1.3 to $ 1.5 billion. The project will be taken over by a joint venture and a consortium led by China Merchant Holdings International will take 80% stake and the Government will absorb the balance apart from leasing the land.

The Port will be managed and operated by a joint venture. 

Along with Hambantota port there will be a Special Economic Zone spanning 15,000 acres connecting districts of Hambantota, Moneragala and Matara etc. “It will be a township with housing and hospitals. It will be an integrated development plan similar to Shenzhen in the south of China,” Minister Samarawickrama said.

With regard to Mattala Airport, Samarawickrama said the revival proposal submitted by Chinese firm wasn’t attractive and a fresh plan has been requested. 

He also said that Hambantota port and airport were one of the biggest headaches inherited by the Unity Government from the previous regime, since it was a port without ships and an airport without planes.

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