Mattala, Hambantota balancing acts between India and China: Rajitha

Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:37 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Chathuri Dissanayake

Making a compelling case for the Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said the joint venture agreements for the two ‘white elephant’ entities are also balancing acts between China and India.

“The real issue here is the diplomatic issue. It really doesn’t matter who we give as they are investment,” he said. “We are trying to balance. When we have given one to India and the other to China,” the Minister said when asked if aligning with Chinese investment will pose diplomatic issues for the country.  

Insisting that the Port will make profits after the new investors start oil bunkering, Senaratne said that the initial business plans for the two investments also included elements that would have made the ventures profitable.

“Mattala and Hambantota became white elephants. Mattala, only one airline came. Ships were forced to berth in Hambantota. I stand by the decisions to build them, but they should have carried out the plans properly. The plan for Hambantota was to have an oil bunkering facility to attract the ships. If we had started oil bunkering, then Hambantota would have been a busy now. Mattala should have had an investment zone built at the same time, and then flights would have landed there,” he said.

“But, oil bunkering was delayed, and the investment zones never came. That is why it became unprofitable.”