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Government Cabinet Ministers, Malik Samarawickrama and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne recently clashed over statements made in reference to the tyre factory project coming up in the Wagawaththa Industrial Zone in Horana.

Dr. Senaratne had previously stated that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had been unaware as to the identity of the investor of the project and had only found out about the issue on the morning of the ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the project.

The Minister of Health while adding that Wickremesinghe had been reluctant to attend the ceremony upon finding out the identity of the investor, had further explained that the Government would revalue the land provided for the project.

Samarawickrama criticized statements made by Dr. Senaratne in this regard as incorrect and misleading. The Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade said that he had informed President Maithripala Sirisena and Wickremesinghe of the identity of the investor well in advance.

There have been two Cabinet papers submitted regarding the land, incentives and terms of the project which had been endorsed, according to Samarawickrama following several discussions and meetings with the Cabinet committee on economic management.

Samarawickrama also pointed out that the statement referring to land being given for the project (100 acres) at Rs 100 per acre was incorrect as the Chief Valuer of the Government had valued the land extent at Rs 170,825,000, a sum which the investor had agreed to pay upfront. The investor is also to pay for the development of the land, the construction of the necessary infrastructure and for procuring the required overheads, especially power.

The total investment of the project which seeks to make value additions to rubber by converting raw rubber to solid and radial tyres, is said to be able to provide employment for approximately 3,000 persons for a reported USD 75 million (Rs 11.25 billion) investment.