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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Hambantota Port loan not repaid through 2017 lease – COPE

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It was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) meeting held on Wednesday (22) that the loans taken for the construction of the Hambantota Port had not been repaid with the money received from the lease in 2017 and that the money had been used for other purposes.

Accordingly, it was revealed that the Ports Authority had given the loan amount as well as the amount received during the lease of the port for 99 years in 2017 to the General Treasury and the loan taken for the construction of the port had not been paid and instead the Treasury had used these funds for other government expenditure as the loan interest rate was low.

Although the General Treasury has repaid the loan and the interest on instalments, it has not been properly recorded in the accounts as a loan repayment.

It was also revealed that the Ports Authority had withdrawn the financial statements the balance of Rs. 147,746 million loan and interest balance and Rs. 31,545 million of foreign exchange conversion loss as at November 30, 2017 without the approval of the Treasury or the Cabinet.

Accordingly, the amount of foreign loans obtained for the construction of the Hambantota Port has not been shown in any of the publications of the government.

These facts were revealed at a meeting of the COPE Committee chaired by Prof. Charitha Herath on Wednesday (22) to examine the 2019, 2020 Auditor General’s Reports and Current Performance of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

The COPE Chairman recommended to the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Civil Aviation that the Ministry of Finance discuss this matter with the Ports Authority and take the necessary steps to include it in the accounts and report to the COPE Committee within a month.

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