Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa insisted that there was no move to sell or lease the East Container Terminal (ECT).
The Prime Minister’s Office quoted him as saying that the East Container Terminal is under the control of the Government.
“We will not give it to anyone. We will not sell it. We will not give it on lease,” the Prime Minister said when asked by reporters about protests over the decision taken by the Government to give the management of the port to India and Japan.
The Prime Minister’s Office quoted Rajapaksa as saying that there has never been talks to give the ECT to anyone.
“There is no issue here. There is nothing to protest over. Our policy is not to sell State assets,” he insisted.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) had warned of a major protest this week against the sale of a stake in the East Container Terminal.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was declared an essential service as workers continued to protest against the decision to give a 49% stake of the East Container Terminal (ECT) to India’s Adani Group.
In an Extraordinary Gazette notice issued yesterday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared all services, work or labour of any description necessary or required to be done by or in connection with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority established by Section 3 of Sri Lanka Ports Authority Act, No. 51 of 1979 an essential public service.
The gazette notice notes that the services provided by any Public Corporation or Government Department or Local Authority or Cooperative Society or any branch thereof being a Department or Corporation or Local Authority or Cooperative Society, which is engaged in provision of the services specified in the Schedule hereto, is essential to the life of the community and is likely to be impeded or interrupted.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told Port Trade Unions earlier this month that the present Government renegotiated a deal with India on the ECT and reached an agreement to retain 51% of the ownership.
‘The previous administration had agreed to sell the East Terminal to India. The agreement envisaged obtaining a loan from Japan after sale and purchasing construction equipment with the loan money,’ the President had said.
The President had said that he would not allow any harm to be caused the sovereignty or independence of the country when investments are arranged.