No argument between President and PM at Cabinet meeting – Rajitha
October 17, 2018 05:43 pm
The Sri Lankan Government today denied media reports alleging a heated argument between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, over a proposal to handover the East Terminal of the Colombo Port to India.
Responding to questions from journalists at the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo today (17), Co-Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne vehemently denied the reports saying that no such Cabinet paper was presented and no such argument took place.
“There was no Cabinet paper about the East Terminal. There was a Cabinet paper about supplying lifts for the East Terminal,” he said.
He said that Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe had presented a Cabinet paper on supplying three forklifts for the East Terminal, but it was postponed for another week as there were no observations from the Finance Ministry.
“Because that has to be discussed on how the East Terminal will be developed in the future. With that only that debt will be considered. But the minister said that he has funds in the Ports Authority to purchase these equipment. So in that case the government said it was okay if they have funds, not using treasury funds,” he said.
Asked whether there was no discussion on developing the East Terminal with India assistance at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Senaratne said that the President had said he had a discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BIMSTEC Summit in India and that he had a very cordial talk.
“What he said was talks were very cordial. He explained even to take over the West Terminal. Leave the East Terminal to be developed by us and the others can be developed by the other countries,” he said.
Senaratne said that Prime Minister Modi understood it and he took it very well. “So after that he said he had told that there was a previous proposal from the Sri Lankan side asking the Indian Government to develop the Eastern Terminal. That’s why he raised the question. Not otherwise. There was no issue with the Indian government on that.”
The co-cabinet spokesman was also questioned about certain media reports which carried a story saying President Sirisena had allegedly shocked his cabinet by accusing India of plotting to assassinate him during yesterday’s meeting.
But the minister rubbished media reports that claimed President had named Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), for hatching an assassination plot against him.
“There was a mention about RAW word. That was he said even in his assassination attempt that the RAW was mentioned. So they said that even certain quarters try to couple that with the Indian person (arrested over the assassination plot), who is an underworld personality,” Senaratne said.
“That he is a RAW person and trying to infect actually India behind his assassination plot. But it was turned and reported in the papers today in a different way that the President said the RAW people came (to assassinate).”
“He never said that,” cabinet spokesman said.