By Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez
COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka signed a long delayed $1.1 billion deal on Saturday to lease its southern Hambantota port to China ignoring an appeal by opposition parties to debate the pact in parliament.
The deal was signed between the two state firms — Sri LankaPorts Authority (SLPA) and China Merchants Port Holdings<0144.HK> to handle the commercial operations of the Chinese-built port on a 99-year lease.
Chinese firm will hold 70 stake in a joint venture with SLPA to run the port, part of a plan to convert loans worth $6 billion that Sri Lanka owes China into equity.
“We thank China for arranging this investor to save us from the debt trap,” Port Minister Mahinda Samaraasinghe told the gathering in Colombo port where the deal was signed.
He said the Chinese firm will invest additional $600 million to make Hambantota port operational while $1.12 billion from …