Sri Lanka (30/06/22 19:53:45)
"Foreign loans “built highways, airports and convention halls in the jungles which didn’t give any returns” in foreign currency, said a lawmaker, Kabir Hashim. “Now we don’t have the dollars to pay them back the dollar loans.”
Critics cite a Chinese-built port in Hambantota in the southeast as a prime example of official recklessness.
It was built in the hometown of then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and paid for with $1.1 billion in Chinese loans despite the plan having been rejected by an expert panel.
Its promoters said Hambantota, on busy Indian Ocean shipping routes, would ease the burden on Sri Lanka’s main port in Colombo. But it failed to generate foreign revenue.
Beijing bailed out the port in 2017 by having a state-owned company, China Merchants Group, buy a 99-year lease for $1.1 billion. That includes land for an industrial park. The deal gave Sri Lanka cash to repay Chinese banks but prompted accusations official bungling gave a foreign government control over part of the country.
Chinese loans also paid for an international airport near Hambantota. Few airlines use it. The crisis reignited accusations Beijing used a “debt trap” to gain influence over the country."
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