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A local near Sri Lanka's Hambantota port speaking to ANI
A local near Sri Lanka's Hambantota port speaking to ANI

Sri Lankan leaders use Chinese money for personal benefit, say locals around Hambantota port

By Ravi Jalhotra | Updated: Apr 10, 2022 23:51 IST


Hambantota [Sri Lanka], April 10 (ANI): Amid one of the worst economic crises in Sri Lanka, locals around the country's Hambantota port blame the government for the situation the island nation is facing at present while saying that the leaders use the money they receive from China for their own benefit rather than for the area's development.
Hambantota port, located around 250 km from Colombo was built with high-interest Chinese loans. The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease.
Locals say that they do not have any issues with the Chinese takeover of the port. Their issue, however, is with the Sri Lankan leaders who use the money that is received as a result for their personal benefits and not for the public.
Jaisena Ediriweera, the head of a village near the port said while speaking to ANI that the locals do not have any objection to the Chinese takeover of the port. Their issue, however, he said, is with the Sri Lankan leaders who use the money for their personal benefits and not for the welfare of Sri Lanka.
Another local said that in future their village will also be sold to China like the other lands that have been sold to Chinese investors, referring to the Hambantota port.
The port area is under heavy security and people outside have no idea of what goes on inside the port. There were reports that a few months back the Sri Lankan government found a radioactive substance inside a ship that was en route to China.
Initially, the Chinese government had asked for 80 per cent of the portland share including the control of security, which was later changed to 70 per cent after pressure from the neighbouring countries including India.
"This government failed to get major investments from China. The government made lot of effort but they failed to get any investment from China. I think discussions are on regarding rescheduling of repayment of loans. They talked to the Chinese Govt. That's all I know," former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe told ANI in Colombo.
Sri Lanka is battling a severe economic crisis with food and fuel scarcity affecting a large number of people in the island nation resulting in massive protests over the government's handling of the situation.
The economy has been in a free-fall since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit tourism.
Sri Lanka is also facing a foreign exchange shortage, which has, incidentally, affected its capacity to import food and fuel, leading to the power cuts in the country. The shortage of essential goods has forced Sri Lanka to seek assistance from friendly countries. (ANI)

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