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China-owned ports report Rs 1b dividend to Sri Lanka Ports Authority

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SHANGHAI : China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPH) has declared a dividend of Rs. 1.05 billion to the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA), while announcing in the past week that its first half net profit had shot up by 204.7% to HK$4.71 billion (Rs 120.61 billion), from HK$1.54 billion in 2020.

It is not clear when the payout to SLPA is being made.

The Chinese government company CMPH, operates four container berths in Colombo’s International Container Terminals, and four multi-purpose berths, two oil berths and four container berths in Hambantota’s International Port Group (HIPG).

The improved financial results for the six months ended June 30, 2021, comes at a time when global container and dry bulk cargo shipping costs are continuing to rise.

CMPH reported on Monday, August 30, that interim revenue increased by 38.9% from the year before to HK$5.66 billion and out of this, HK$5.31 billion was generated from terminal handling charges at port terminals, stevedoring, and the auxiliary services.

The company said Colombo International Container Terminals, (CICT) moved 1.50 million containers, or twenty-foot equivalent units, in the six months to June, up by 8.7% year-on-year, largely transshipment cargo.

For the first half of 2021, Hong Kong-listed China Merchants Port Holdings, said that Hambantota International Port Group handled 790,000 tonnes of bulk cargo, largely as a result of rising cement volumes. Bulk cargo volume vaulted by 338.9% from the year before.

China Merchants Port Holdings, said the roll-on/roll-off terminal handled 281,000 vehicles in the first half, up by 56.2% year-on-year. This was also mainly transshipments.

The HIPG Industrial Park has signed up 27 enterprises, the company said. It is also gearing up to become a fully-functional multi-purpose port next year.

In July, China’s state news agency Xinhua, cited HIPG General Manager, Commercial and Marketing, Lance Zuo as saying: “As Hambantota Port is working towards being a fully-functional multi-purpose port by next year, we are gearing at all levels, which includes continuous training and testing our systems for optimum efficiency.”

Cargo volume has risen to more than 1.20 million metric tonnes in the first six months, from 420,421 MT at end June, 2020, Xinhua said, citing HIP. Roll-on/roll-off volume increased to 413,005 MT from 239,827 MT the year before.

As it reported interim earnings, CMPH said also that CICT launched a ‘Hope Village’ with a Rs 17 million community centre for Pannila, near Horana.

It donated US$21,600 to the Government of Sri Lanka to build coronavirus isolation centres and gave eight 20-foot containers to a hospital in Gampaha District, to be fitted out for use as nucleic acid testing labs. It gave US$4,500 worth of anti-pandemic supplies (5,000 N95 respirator masks) to a hospital in Hambantota; US$10,000 to Hambantota Zonal Education Office and a hospital, and an additional US$75,000 worth of PCR testing machinery to a hospital Hambantota, the company said.

In April, CICT and HIPG jointly launched the second ‘Hope Village’ project in a village in Hambantota.

China’s port projects in Sri Lanka have become intertwined with national debt and corrupt domestic politics and business.

On July 25, 2017, during the Ranil Wickremesinghe-Maithripala Sirisena Government, Sri Lanka agreed to sell the loss-making Hambantota Port, then condemned as a vanity project of Mahinda Rajapaksa, to CMPH. The deal also gave certain exclusive rights for 15 years to the Chinese state company, which by the end of that year had increased its assets to HK$131.95 billion. These assets include its investments.

Source : The Sunday Times

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