Deal for Rs. 20 bil­lion++ Rus­sian pa­trol ves­sel this week, com­pany chief comes in pri­vate jet

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS -

The Gov­ern­ment will this week sign a US$ 135 mil­lion ( or more than Rs 20 bil­lion) deal to buy a Rus­sian built Gepard 5.1 Off­shore Pa­trol Ves­sel ( OPV) for the Sri Lanka Navy.

A del­e­ga­tion from Ros­boro­no­ex­port, the mono­lithic state- owned en­ter­prise for de­fence ex­ports, will ar­rive in Colombo for this pur­pose. They are also ex­pected to hold talks on other Rus­sian de­fence equip­ment on of­fer. The Rus­sian com­pany of­fers bat­tle tanks, fight­ing ve­hi­cles, com­bat train­ers, bomber jets, air­craft, he­li­copters, ships, boats, sub­marines, weapons and am­mu­ni­tion.

The sign­ing of the OPV deal will co­in­cide with the ar­rival of Alexan­der Alexan­drovich Mikheev in his pri­vate jet. A close friend o f Ru s s i a n Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, he is the head of Ros­boro­no­ex­port and is be­ing ac­com­pa­nied by top of­fi­cials and his per­sonal se­cu­rity team. He is ex­pected to call on Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena, top se­cu­rity and de­fence of­fi­cials. Pres­i­dent Putin ap­pointed Mr Mikheev for the top post in Jan­uary this year.

The cost of the OPV at US$ 135 MIL­LION is the unutilised amount re­main­ing from a credit line is­sued by Rus­sia on Fe­bru­ary 10, 2010. The pre­vi­ous Gov­ern­ment utilised only US$ 165 mil­lion and the credit line lapsed in 2015. How­ever, the present Gov­ern­ment per­suaded Rus­sia to re- val­i­date the US$ 135 mil­lion

for five years. A Rus­sian bank is ex­tend­ing a loan for the amount at an an­nual in­ter­est rate of four per cent. The re­pay­ment pe­riod, with a five year grace, will be within ten years.

The value of the OPV would in­crease to US$ 158 mil­lion which would cover on­board spares and am­mu­ni­tion. A fur­ther US$ 7 mil­lion is the cost of train­ing Sri Lanka Navy per­son­nel. The Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have re­quested the Gov­ern­ment of Sri Lanka to con­tribue 15 per­cent of the value of the ves­sel.

In Septem­ber this year, the Cabi­net of Min­is­ters ap­proved a rec­om­men­da­tion from Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena, as Min­is­ter of De­fence, for the pur­chase of this ves­sel. He said in a Cabi­net Mem­o­ran­dum that “The Sri Lanka Navy has a re­quire­ment of this kind of a ship and al­ready given the rec­om­men­da­tions to pur­chase this.”

De­fence sources say the pur­chase of more ships from two dif­fer­ent coun­tries is now on the cards.

Alexan­der Alexan­drovich Mikheev, head of Ros­borono ex­port

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