President hails strong friendship, multi-faceted links with China

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 01:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Pledges support for 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposal
  • Says contribution to Lanka’s economic growth unprecedented
Following is the statement containing remarks to the press by President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the inauguration of the Norochcholai Coal Power project released by the Presidential Media Unit   It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and Madam Peng Liyuan and the delegation on a State visit to Sri Lanka. The strong and close links between Sri Lanka and China goes back many centuries. Historical chronicles record ancient contacts by land and sea that existed between our two countries. In this context, Sri Lanka is happy to support the proposal by China, to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, having been located on the ancient maritime route between the east and west as recognised in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’. At this juncture, it is an honour to have Your Excellency at the inauguration of Phases II and III of the first coal power project to have been built in Sri Lanka, which has been realised through the generous assistance of the Chinese Government. This power project in particular has assisted the power system to expand across the country by 900MW, enabling a total capacity of 3,900MW with the daily consumption of electricity being 2,050MW. Undoubtedly, this project has contributed to the realisation of the aim in the 10-year economic development plan of the Government ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’ to speed up further economic development in our country. The commissioning of the first phase in March 2011, which started when the world oil price exceeded $ 100 per metric ton, facilitated the stabilisation of the rising cost of our power generation. The current commissioning of the second and third phases of the power project will bring down the cost of electricity in our country. I am happy to announce that this year all households in Sri Lanka will have electricity in their homes and this project will ensure a quality supply of electricity to all my people. Your country’s assistance in this regard, Excellency, has enabled me to realise a pledge to my people, for which I am thankful. In appreciation of your Excellency’s visit and enormous contribution to reduce cost of electricity and energy, I now announce that electricity bills of the people will be reduced by 25% with effect from today. I also announce that price of kerosene will be reduced by Rs. 20 per litre, price of petrol by Rs. 5 per litre and price of diesel by Rs. 3 per litre today. This will benefit all households in Sri Lanka. During the official talks held today, we discussed and exchanged views on our close and strong friendship and the multi-faceted links that bind our two great nations. The elevation of our bilateral ties to that of a Strategic Cooperative Partnership has made a positive contribution to the advancement of our relations. The Plan of Action signed by the two Ministers of External Affairs will make the proposals we have discussed, a reality. China’s contribution to the economic growth of Sri Lanka has been unprecedented. Our economy is growing at 7.8% this year. The launch of negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and China, which will commence tomorrow, will provide a more balanced and sustainable development in our bilateral trade and economic cooperation, once finalised. The launch of the Colombo Port City project, which will also take place tomorrow, is expected to change the skyline of our city. This will be the largest single Foreign Direct Investment of around $ 1.5 billion for the land development that has potential to attract around $ 5 billion from all over the world. Let me conclude by stating that the people of Sri Lanka join me in expressing deep appreciation to China for the assistance in a number of fields and being a sincere and trusted friend who has supported Sri Lanka at all times.

 Rajapaksa and Xi commission last phase of Norochcholai Power Plant

  President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chinese President Xi Jinping together commissioned the last phase of the Norochcholai Lakvijaya Power Plant last evening at a joint event that remotely linked the Presidential Secretariat with Norochcholai via a fibre optic network. Work on the second phase of Sri Lanka’s only coal-fired power plant commenced in March 2010. Through this final phase, two generators of 300 MW each will contribute 600 MW, which will be sent through high voltage transmission lines to Anuradhapura through 234 electrical towers. The first phase, which was completed in March 2011 and commissioned by President Rajapaksa, generates 300 MW of electricity that is being transmitted from Norochcholai to Veyangoda. In total, the Norochcholai plant now produces a total of 900 MW of electricity. According to the Ministry of Power and Energy, from July 2011 to December 2013, the plant has generated approximately 3,646 GWh of electricity to the national grid, saving the country approximately Rs. 65 billion. The project was completed with a concessionary loan by China Exim Bank. The cost of the entire project is $ 1,346 million. The first phase cost $ 455 million, and the second phase cost $ 891 million. High-level officials from both countries joined the two Leaders for the commissioning ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat. The Norochcholai Power Plant will further improve Sri Lankans’ access to electricity. Access to power has improved throughout the country in recent years, including the north and east. In February 2013, President Rajapaksa commissioned the 24 MW Janani Power Plant in Chunnakam in Jaffna. That project helped provide uninterrupted power supply to the Jaffna and Kilinochchi Districts. The total percentage of households in Sri Lanka that have access to electricity has increased from 76.7% in 2005 to 97% in 2014. Sri Lanka’s second coal-fired power plant will be constructed at Sampur in the eastern region of Trincomalee and is expected to add a further 500 MW to the national grid.