Did Malik exploit loopholes to sign Singapore FTA?

Did Malik exploit loopholes to sign Singapore FTA?

Did Malik exploit loopholes to sign Singapore FTA?

Written by Staff Writer

19 Jul, 2018 | 10:00 am

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Is there any truth to the claim made by Minister Malik Samarawickrema that Cabinet approved Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement?

During the debate on the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement in Parliament on Tuesday (July 17), Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama said the draft agreement was passed in Cabinet with the considerations of several ministers and the Attorney General. He stated that the 14 observations were made in the presence of S.B. Dissanayake as well and that was reproduced on the 16th. Min. Samarawickrama also challenged the oppositions MPs to go before the supreme court if they wish to challenge the agreement.

The Minister’s claim that the agreement was discussed in Cabinet on the 16th of January this year is true. However, the Cabinet of Ministers had only approved to sign the agreement subject to clearance of the Attorney General.

A letter addressed by the Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers the next day to the Attorney General and Secretaries to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Development Strategies and International Trade states the finalized draft agreement should be submitted to the Cabinet, through the Minister, for consideration.

While the letter dated 17th of January 2018 had reached all the relevant Government authorities by the 19th, the agreement was signed on the 23rd. However, the Cabinet of Ministers convened only a week later, which was on the 30th of January.

This casts a cloud of doubt over Minister Malik Samarawickrama’s statement that Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement which was supposedly drafted with the clearance of the Attorney General was re-submitted to Cabinet.

A member of the Professionals’National Front, Kesara Kottegoda stated that a decision was taken on the 16th to sign the agreement, but it was on the basis of being subjected to the Attorney General for clearance.

Secretary of the Professionals’ National Front, Kapila Perera noted that they would be accepting the minister’s recommendation to challenge the agreement in Court, adding that they had already filed a case in the supreme court.

 

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