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Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinge on Friday confirmed that the automobile assembling plant which started construction last week was not exclusively for Volkswagen.

A divergence from the original plan, he said the reason for this was due to the emission scandal and other related matters that rocked the German automaker last year after the signing of the agreement in August the same year to set up the assembling facility.

He further said that the government decided not to limit the facility to Volkswagen exclusively in order to make sure that the project doesn’t hit a snag due to any possible law suits that may crop up as results of the reported crises.

Meanwhile in a lengthy Facebook post, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva criticized the BOI for keeping the public in the dark in relation to the developments of this project.

Given the BOI agreement signed in August 2015 to set up this plant was still in place, Senok Automobiles who are the agency for Volkswagen in Sri Lanka had agreed to establish the plant to assemble various makes of European Automobiles – thus renaming the project as “Western Automobile” – according to him.

“At this point the BOI should have announced to the press the change. It’s unfortunate it was not done as all of us were caught by surprise and now have to face this allegation of attempting to hide facts,” Dr. de Silva charged.

“In fact since I moved out of my earlier portfolio of Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs to the new one in the Foreign Ministry in August 2015, I had no dealings with the project and was sincerely unaware of the various changes until it was explained. I would appreciate that fact be respected before plunging into accusation of hoodwinking,” Dr. de Silva added.
Dr. de Silva further in this statement said that at no point at the foundation laying ceremony had there been any mention of the plant being for Volkswagen.

While criticizing the BOI for not updating the media in relation to the developments as and when they happened, he said that as a country we need to be satisfied with the fact that many jobs will be generated as a result of the establishment of this facility.
In the BOI website however the project is still referred to as the ‘Volkswagen assembly plant’.