- Says that country is being sold to the Chinese by unscrupulous top members of Govt. and warns of dire consequences if excesses are not stopped
By Uditha Jayasinghe
China is an “economic hit man” that Sri Lanka needs to be wary of, charged United National Party MP Dr. Harsha de Silva yesterday, insisting that increasing ties are detrimental to the country.
He alleged that the Sri Lankan Government was agreeing to massively expensive infrastructure projects that are of little relevance to anyone else due to the influence of a handful of local politicians. He insisted that the results of this would be felt by the country years from now, when it is unable to make repayments for the loans.
“Billions of dollars are being spent on white elephant projects that are of little relevance to the masses. Take for example the five-ships-a year harbours or the international cricket stadiums where few matches are ever played, coal power plants that do not work or the Lotus Tower with no earthly use to people – these are all projects that are funded by the Chinese,” he said.
The MP opined that when Sri Lanka cannot pay back the loans, China could well tap into the resources of the country and its strategic location for its own interests, which the Government would be powerless to prevent.
“We have seen it happen in other countries. When loans cannot be paid back, China can demand to use our resources or that we vote in its favour at the UN. In fact there are already Government stalwarts such as Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama going around saying that the management of these projects should be handed over to the Chinese. Is this not playing right into their hands?”
He pointed out that Sri Lanka was a key part of China’s “string of pearls” navel strategy where it is trying to build a chain of ports around rival India.
Given this situation, he questioned as to how the top people in Government could condone continued interaction with China when Sri Lanka’s economic freedom, resources and money were at stake.
Quoting from the latest Financial Management Report for June-September 2011 released by the Finance Ministry to Parliament under the signature of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he stated that even though US$ 785 million had been pledged by the Chinese and US$ 600 million had been disbursed, no money had been given as grants.
“The Government goes around trying to present these massive loans as grants or financial aid, but there is no such thing. Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal has publically said that I am not correct, but I challenge him to prove whether it is me or the President who is lying.”