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Wijeyadasa says all profits from Port City will flow out to China

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by Chitra Weerarathne

The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill would not help Sri Lanka’s economy as it seeks to allow all profits of the venture to flow out to China. The Bill was therefore disastrous, counsel Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC told the Supreme Court yesterday.

Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse appeared with Gamini Hettiarachchi for the petition filed by petitioners Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera and Attorney-at-Law Dasun Nanayakkara.

SLPP MP Dr. Rajapakse submitted that the Port City land had been reclaimed in keeping with an agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and a Chinese Construction Company. The original agreement had been revised followign the 2015 regime change. The Cabinet of Sri Lanka decided that the filled-up land in the Port City should be managed by Sri Lanka and vested in the UDA. The President had to obtain the approval of the UDA, to vest it in the Colombo Port City Economic Commission.

The Bill titled Colombo Port City Economic Commission should be a nullity. The Western Provincial Council had a solid hold on any transfer of this filled-up land in the Port City. In terms of Article 154/3/3 of the Constitution the Bill should be referred to the Provincial Council. It could not be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, without referring it to the Provincial Council.

The delegation of presidential powers was unconstitutional. The state land might be disposed of by the presidential seal. The powers of the President should not be delegated to other persons, who might be Sri Lankans or Chinese or others. The powers of the President should not be delegated to the Commission to be an auctioneer of the people’s land. The sovereignty of the people, stated in Article 3, should be respected. Development should take place within the framework of the Constitution, upholding the sovereignty of the people. Investments of Sri Lanka should be protected.

The national security is very important. The Board of Investment might handle foreign investments. Article 27 and Article 28 of the Constitution would be violated by the proposed Bill. The Parliament had to protect the fundamental rights. A privilege was given to those to who would be in the new enclave. They would be given tax free benefits. They were living in a separate zone. Very likely the Chinese people would be employed in the new zone. Sri Lankans would not be employed. I

The Commission could lease or sell, the land within the Port City. They would manage the land in the new zone. The Port City would become a separate entity.

Dr. Rajapakshe said:”This Bill is inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution on equality. The business community in Colombo will have to collapse. The new land will be tax free. The new Bill will not help the economy of Sri Lanka. The profits in this region will flow out to China. The Bill is disastrous.”

“There will be money laundering in the newly proposed land which is stated in the Bill. Article 2,3, and 4 of the Constitution are violated. Article (2) states Sri Lanka is a unitary state. There cannot be another territory within it. The proposed Port City is excluded from the Customs Ordinance. Any prohibited article could be brought in here. All the foreign lands like India and USA are opposed to this Bill”, Counsel Rajapaksa stressed.

“This Bill cannot be passed without a referendum and a two third majority in Parliament.”

Counsel Krishmal Warnasuriya supported another petition. Among the petitioners were persons, from Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

On April 19, 2021, Counsel Weraduwa supported a petition against the Bill. The petitioner here was Kapila Perera.

General Secretary of the UNP, Palitha Ranga Bandara had filed a petition against the Bill. Counsel Viraj de Silva appeared for him.

S. R. Attygalla, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance had submitted an intervention supporting the Port City Economic Commission Bill. President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena, appeared for him.

V. K. Choksy, President’s Counsel submitted another intervention supporting the Bill. He appeared with Counsel, D.S. Ratnayake, Gamini Dissanayake, Minoli Alexander for the intervenient the Secretary of the Podu Jana Eksath Peramuna Lawyers’ Association.

Romesh de Silva, PC also submitted an intervention supporting the Bill.

The Bench comprised, Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka P. Aluwihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, Justice Murdhu N. B. Fernando and Justice Janak de Silva.

Additional Solicitor General Farzarna Jameel, President’s Counsel appeared with Senior Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle for the Attorney General.



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Pakistan’s ex-president, Pervez Musharraf dies aged 79

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(picture BBC)

BBC reported that Pakistan’s former president General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, has died aged 79.

The former leader – who was president between 2001 and 2008 – died after a long illness, a statement from the country’s army said.

He had survived numerous assassination attempts, and found himself on the front line of the struggle between militant Islamists and the West.

He supported the US “war on terror” after 9/11 despite domestic opposition.

In 2008 he suffered defeat in the polls and left the country six months later.

When he returned in 2013 to try to contest the election, he was arrested and barred from standing. He was charged with high treason and was sentenced to death in absentia only for the decision to be overturned less than a month later.

He left Pakistan for Dubai in 2016 to seek medical treatment and had been living in exile in the country ever since.

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The 75th Anniversary of National Independence celebrated under the patronage of President, PM

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(picture Presidents Media)

The 75th National Independence Day celebration was held under the theme “Namo Namo Mata – A Step towards the Century”, under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Saturday morning (04) at Galle Face Green.

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Lanka sovereign bond holders write to the IMF

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ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s bondholders have written to the International Monetary Fund expressing their willingness to engage in debt re-structuring talks but also raising matters related to the domestic debt re-structuring and economic assumptions and forecasts.

The group, styling itself as the “Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the Bondholder Group) has written last week to the IMF Managing Director from New York said inter alia that the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

The letter concluded with the paragraph: Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

Following is the text of the letter:

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2023

Dear Managing Director Georgieva,The Ad Hoc Group of Sri Lanka Bondholders (the “Bondholder Group”) acknowledges the Sri Lankan authorities’ engagement with their official creditors towards a resolution of the current crisis and restoration of debt sustainability.

The Bondholder Group further acknowledges that such engagement has recently resulted in the Government of India (in its letter to the IMF, dated January 16, 2023 (the “India Letter”)) delivering letters of financing assurances, committing to support Sri Lanka and contribute to its efforts to restore debt sustainability by providing debt relief and financing consistent with the IMF Extended Fund Facility Arrangement (the “IMF Programme”) and the IMF Programme targets indicated in the India Letter.

Similarly, the Bondholder Group through its Steering Committee stands ready to engage quickly and effectively with the Sri Lankan authorities to design and implement restructuring terms that would help Sri Lanka restore debt sustainability and allow the country to re-gain access to the international capital markets during the IMF Programme period.

Based on the limited information available to us at this time, including information contained in the India Letter, we understand that the IMF Programme’s debt sustainability targets are identified as

(i) reducing the ratio of public debt to GDP to 95% by 2032,

(ii) limiting the central government’s annual gross financing needs to GDP ratio to 13% in the period between 2027 and 2032, and central government annual foreign currency debt service at 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032 and

(iii) closing of the external financing gap.

The Bondholder Group hereby confirms it is prepared to engage, through its Steering Committee, with the Sri Lankan authorities in restructuring negotiations consistent with the parameters of an IMF Programme and the targets specified therein (the “IMF Programme Targets”), which the Bondholder Group understands to be the targets identified in the India Letter; it being recognized that these negotiations will necessarily be further informed by the receipt of the forthcoming DSA.

We would note that the finalization of an agreement will also be subject to the satisfaction of the following conditions:

The central government’s domestic debt – defined as debt governed by local law – is reorganized in a manner that both ensures debt sustainability and safeguards financial stability.

Assuming that annual gross financing needs should not exceed 13% of GDP in the period between 2027 and 2032, whilst allowing for central government annual foreign currency debt service to reach 4.5% of GDP in every year between 2027 and 2032, domestic gross financing should therefore be limited at 8.5% of GDP for the period 2027-2032.

While we recognize that the determination of the economic assumptions underpinning the IMF Programme Targets is ultimately the responsibility of the IMF and that the overall design of the IMF Programme is one that is negotiated between the IMF and Sri Lanka, it is nevertheless important that the Bondholder Group has the opportunity to express its views on both the economic assumptions underpinning these IMF Programme Targets and the adequacy and feasibility of the adjustment efforts contemplated under the IMF Programme.

When considering any restructuring proposal that is made to the Bondholder Group, it is the Bondholder Group’s intention to take into consideration the extent to which the economic assumptions and the adjustment efforts are consistent with these views.

Recognizing the important commitments made by India in the India Letter, the Sri Lankan authorities will apply the principle of comparable treatment in respect of the debt relief requested and obtained from all their remaining official bilateral creditors.

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