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



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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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?



By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military



By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province



Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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