Trinco Deal With India To Go Ahead

by Amavasya Sirisena 

The government has decided to go ahead with the deal with India to develop the Trincomalee port despite some “annoying” opposition.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that strengthening the relationship with India being the best trading partner, closest neighbour and friend of all time and heading towards an economic partnership will have a mutual advantage.

Karunanayake was speaking to New X on the sidelines of the visit to Sri Lanka last Thursday by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Karunanayake, further stressing on the potential and robust economic growth that Sri Lanka will experience as a result of joining hands with India stated that, “India has tremendous potential as she is heading towards becoming an economic power house and with India’s strength and Sri Lanka’s presence geographically, the partnership that we already commenced with India in developing the Trincomalee Port, will be ideal since it is all about utilising the oil tank which has been doing nothing for the last sixty or seventy years.”

He further elaborated that opposite views by extremists on the Trincomalee deal is not significant at all but a mere annoying factor that is there and the government is heading towards an economic plan in creating jobs and taking advantage of the utmost commercial use.

Sri Lanka is looking to work with India and Japan to develop the Trincomalee port.

Last month Sri Lanka and Japan signed the “Economic and Social Development Programme” (grant aid: 1 billion yen) which will look to realise safer and more efficient management in the Port of Trincomalee, which receives favourable terms as anchorage, by providing equipment relating to port facilities manufactured in Japan to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. As the Port of Trincomalee is located in the Eastern Province, it is expected that the project will contribute to the restoration of conflict-affected areas.

Meanwhile, India and Sri Lanka have, in principle, agreed to jointly operate the World War-era oil storage facility in Trincomalee, the strategically advantaged port town located on the island’s east coast, The Hindu newspaper reported recently.

“We are currently negotiating the specifics of the joint venture,” Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakkody told The Hindu. Indian Oil Corporation subsidiary Lanka IOC, engaged in bunkering operations, runs 15 out of the 99 storage tanks in the lower oil tank farm in Trincomalee.

The proposed joint venture pertains to the remaining 84 tanks in the upper farm, but Sri Lanka would retain 10 of those for use by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and most of the tanks – built by the British during the World War years – are in good condition, he added.

During his visit to Sri Lanka in March 2015, Modi had said the project to develop the upper tank farm in Trincomalee would help the coastal town become a regional petroleum hub. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said last month it will oppose the agreement to be signed between Sri Lanka and India to jointly operate the oil storage facility in Trincomalee.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the JVP backed trade union action launched last month by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unions against the deal. Dissanayake said the move is part of attempts by the government to sell state assets to foreign companies.

“This government is not protecting state assets but is looking to sell them,” he said.


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