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Sri Lanka wants to undo deal to lease port to China for 99 years

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Sri Lanka’s new government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants to undo the previous regime’s move to lease the southern port of Hambantota to a Chinese venture, citing national interest.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2017 changed the terms, saying it would be difficult to pay the loans taken to build the project. He agreed to lease the port for 99 years to a venture led by China Merchants Port Holdings Co. in return for $1.1 billion. That helped ease the Chinese part of the debt burden raised to build the port, Wickremesinghe said in an interview in 2018.

“We would like them to give it back,” Ajith Nivard Cabraal, a former central bank governor and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, said in an interview at his home in a Colombo suburb. “The ideal situation would be to go back to status quo. We pay back the loan in due course in the way that we had originally agreed without any disturbance at all.”

The port is emblematic of the controversy dogging Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative from Kenya to Myanmar, including accusations that the world’s second-largest economy is luring poor countries into debt traps. In Sri Lanka, where the transaction to lease the port was opposed by Rajapaksa’s party, Mahinda took Chinese loans during his 10-year rule as president to build the project in his home district.

“This is a sovereign agreement” and it’s unlikely that it will be scrapped or altered in a big way, said Smruti Pattanaik, a research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. “The Chinese may reconsider some clause, if it is considered crucial for the Rajapaksa regime.”

An attempt to rework the transaction will help the new Sri Lankan government, led by Gotabaya and his brother Mahinda, showcase their drive to change contracts seen as hurting national security, a key campaign platform for Gotabaya, a former defense secretary.

“China-Sri Lanka cooperation, including the Hambantota port project, are built on the basis of equality and consultation,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a faxed statement from its spokesperson’s office. “China looks forward to working with Sri Lanka to make Hambantota a new shipping hub in the Indian Ocean and developing the local economy.”

China’s infrastructure-building in Sri Lanka became part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, prompting concern in India about its geopolitical rival using a port close to its southern coastline for future military or strategic uses. Gotabaya is in India on Friday for his first state visit overseas.

China has dismissed worries over any military dimension to its investment in the Hambantota port, which lies on the main shipping routes between Asia and Europe, and said it was mutually beneficial that would aid Sri Lanka’s economy.

“Sri Lanka will have to offer it something equally, if not more, attractive in financial terms for Beijing to agree to the cancellation of the lease agreement,” said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. “With the Rajapaksa family back in power, China hopes to expand its footprint in Sri Lanka.”

A similar port deal under the Belt and Road program in Myanmar was drastically scaled to $1.3 billion from $7.5 billion, while in Malaysia the government canceled $3 billion worth of pipelines and renegotiated a rail project in 2019, cutting that one’s cost by a third to $11 billion.

“Bilateral agreements once you’ve signed those, are serious agreements,” Cabraal said in his house adorned with pictures of local and foreign leaders. “At the same time, we’ve got to look after the national interests. And if one government had bartered it away, there is a necessity for the new government to find ways and means by which it can be done amicably.”

For its part, China Merchants, whose $93 billion of revenue dwarfs Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product, has been able to use its experience stretching from China to Europe to help kick start the Hambantota port, which once hardly attracted any ships.

China Merchants’ Hambantota joint venture also last month said it had entered into an agreement with Japanese shipping conglomerate Nippon Yusen KK, for vehicle transshipment through the port.

New Ports Minister Johnston Fernando wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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Business

Delhi: Businesses can now remain open 24×7, over 300 applications cleared by L-G

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Photo by Rehan Fazal on Unsplash

From restaurants to transport services and BPOs to online delivery services, all those who apply for exemptions will be allowed to operate 24×7 in Delhi starting next week, with Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena approving the proposal to exempt 314 such places to operate all day long, some of them pending since 2016, officials said.

“The L-G has directed that notification to this effect be issued within seven days. The decision of providing exemption under Sections 14, 15 & 16 of the Delhi Shops & Establishment Act, 1954, is expected to boost employment generation and promote a positive and favorable business environment that is a prerequisite for economic growth. The decision will also provide a fillip to the much desired ‘nightlife’ in the city,” said an official.

Source: IndianExpress

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Business

Swiggy Instamart figures, Mumbaikars ordered 570 times more condoms in the last one year

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Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year.

These days people are doing online shopping fiercely in the country. Through Grocery Service Platforms, the goods of need are easily reaching people’s homes. From vegetables to medicines, just a few clicks on the smartphone are reaching people’s doorsteps. According to a survey, Swiggy Instamart has provided service to more than 9 million users between June 2021 and June 2022. In metros like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Bangalore, people are buying goods online in large numbers.

Healthcare products orders

Customers are also ordering medical-related things through online shopping platforms. According to a survey, Mumbaikars have ordered 570 times more condoms in the last 12 months. At the same time, in 2021, Instamart received orders for about two million sanitary napkins, menstrual cups, and tampons. Apart from this, a lot of orders have also been received for grocery items.

56 lakh packets of noodles ordered

According to the survey, between April and June last year, there was a 42 percent increase in the demand for ice cream in these metro cities. It was also learned that most of the orders were placed after 10 pm. In metro cities, people have ordered 5.6 million packets of instant noodles. In Hyderabad, users ordered around 27,000 bottles of fresh juice during the summer months.

60 lakh eggs ordered

The demand for eggs has increased manifold in the last two years. People living in metro cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai ordered an average of 6 million eggs in the last year. According to the report, customers from Bangalore and Hyderabad ordered the maximum number of eggs for breakfast. At the same time, people of Mumbai, Jaipur, and Coimbatore have ordered the maximum number of eggs online at the time of dinner.

Demand for dairy products

There has been a huge jump in orders for both tea and coffee. According to the report, there has been an increase of 2,000 percent in its demand. At the same time, 3 crore orders of milk have come for milk. People from Bangalore and Mumbai have placed more orders in the morning. Regular milk, full cream milk and toned milk are the most ordered dairy products.

Ordering fruits and vegetables

Orders for 62,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables have been received in the last year. With 12,000 orders, Bengaluru tops the list of organic product buyers. At the same time, Hyderabad and Bangalore together have ordered more than 290 tonnes of green chilies in 12 months. Over 2 lakh orders have been received for bathroom cleaners, scrub pads, drain cleaners, and more in the last year.

Source: Aajtak

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Brand Story

Zepto, 10-minute grocery delivery app, raises $100 million

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Only five months subsequent to dispatching, 10-minute basic food item conveyance application Zepto on Tuesday reported it has raised $100 million driven by Y Combinator, taking its valuation to $570 million.

Other than the raise money, Zepto has been developing staggeringly rapidly and is significantly increasing its client base consistently.

In the course of recent months, Zepto has extended past Mumbai by dispatching in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune (Kolkata to follow), the organization said in an assertion.

“Financial backers are reliably deciding to back Zepto due to our top tier execution. This is giving us extraordinary energy – we’re developing at an amazing rate, clients are adoring the item experience, our center unit financial matters are solid, and we have one of the most outstanding startup groups in India today,” said Aadit Palicha, Co-Founder and CEO.

The Series C raising money round saw support from new and existing financial backers, including Glade Brook, Nexus, Breyer Capital, Lachy Groom, Global Founders Capital, Contrary Capital, and that’s just the beginning.

The round came 45 days later the organization reported its $60 million raise money in November.

Conveying food in a short time is a game-changing encounter for clients in the nation, and a few players are presently joining the race.

“We are eager to twofold down and lead this round in Zepto. They initially dispatched with an alternate model, quickly turned to speedy trade in August 2021, and are presently adding 100,000 new clients consistently, 60% of the ladies,” said Anu Hariharan from Y Combinator.

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