Spotlight on Singapore FTA reveals glaring loopholes

Spotlight on Singapore FTA reveals glaring loopholes

Spotlight on Singapore FTA reveals glaring loopholes

Written by Staff Writer

17 May, 2018 | 9:58 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) – The Government Medical Officers’ Association launched a 24-hour island wide token strike at 8 AM today (May 17).  The strike action was against the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement and the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) signed with India.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association said the strike action did not affect services at emergency units, women’s hospitals, children’s hospitals, cancer hospitals and kidney treatment units. The GMOA warns, if the government does not draw its attention on the Free Trade Agreement signed with Singapore, it will resort to more severe trade union action.

Secretary to the President, Austin Fernando stated that they have invited a particular organization that raised this issue for a discussion at the Presidential Secretariat on the 22nd of this month at 12.30 on the instructions of the President.

Yesterday it was revealed that the President tabled a memorandum at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on the 08th of January 2018 stating the Sri Lanka Singapore Free Trade Agreement needs to be drafted and prepared as per the National Trade Policy, to which the Cabinet agreed in July 2017. However News 1st has learned, there is no such National Trade Policy to be found. When questioned, the Co-Cabinet Spokesperson also said there is no such National Trade Policy.

On May 16th Dr. Haritha Aluthge said, Minister Malik Samarawickrama and his advisers had deceived the whole country and shamelessly handed over the Economic Independence of our country directly to Singapore forever, and indirectly to other nations through this act.

On the same day the Chairman of the Government Ayurvedic Doctors’ Association, Dr. Nimal Karunasiri said ever since Minister Malik Samarawickreme took over the subject, he has gone ahead in signing this agreement with Singapore as if this country is his personal property.

With opposition mounting over Mode 4 or the movement of people in the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free-Trade Agreement, the Institute of Policy Studies revealed that Sri Lanka’s National Labour Migration Policy of 2008 has no formal and regulatory framework to govern immigration of workers. The institute adds the current policy framework also lacks domestic regulation to determine and recognize the foreign training, skills, and education of incoming workers.

Bilesha Weeraratne, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies says if Sri Lanka is to open its labor market to foreign workers, it is crucial to develop an authoritative framework that captures foreign credential evaluation beyond individual professional bodies.

She stated that currently, Sri Lanka does not have a framework to govern migrant workers coming into Sri Lanka which leads to many problems especially in terms of evaluating their credentials of qualifications to work in Sri Lanka. According to her, that is one of the main problems or main arguments that have put forward against foreign workers coming into Sri Lanka.

She added that first and foremost Sri Lanka has to establish a mechanism to evaluate the credentials or the qualifications of those entering the country so that the Sri Lankan workers who are competing with the incoming workers will be at ease knowing that they are competing with equally skilled workers or equally qualified workers.

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