Written by Staff Writer
18 Aug, 2018 | 9:21 am
Colombo (News 1st) – There continues to be many questions surrounding the controversial Singapore Sri Lanka free trade agreement (FTA).
Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama reiterated during an even in Kurunegala on Friday (Aug 18th), that there is no problem with the FTA. He once again took the stance that the FTA does not require the approval of Parliament and that this was communicated to him by the Attorney General.
There was another key point that the minister mentioned, there are no issues with the FTA at present but we should be should be prepared to face any challenges that may pop up in the future. The man who spearheaded the FTA is saying there may be complications in the future, could this be a cautious approach by a crafty politician or foreshadowing for what could occur in the future?
An observation carrying the signature of President Maithripala Sirisena issued on the 8th of January 2018 stated that all future free trade agreements should be in line with the National trade policy that was agreed on by the cabinet of ministers in July 2017. However, Cabinet spokesperson Minister Rajitha Seneratne expressing his views in May this year denied the existence of such a National Policy.
Meanwhile, during the parliamentary debate on the Singapore Sri Lanka free trade agreement on the 17th of July, the Minister of Development strategies and international trade Malik Samarawickrama stated that the draft of the FTA which was prepared based on the input of a number of ministers and the attorney general was approved by the Cabinet.
Malik Samarawickrama during the Parliamentary debate stated that the 14 observations on the FTA were made in the presence of S.B Dissanayake and that it was reproduced on the 16 January. He stated that he has the cabinet paper with him. He further claimed that the Attorney General had said that there is no impediment and challenged the opposition to file a case against it.
Secretary to the Ministry of Development strategies and international Trade, Chandani Wijeyawardena stated that that on the 9th of January 2018, Cabinet had recommended that the Ministry obtains the observations of the Attorney General on the FTA. She states that the Ministry received the observations on the 15th of January.
Chandani Wijeyawardena states that they submitted the clearance received from the attorney general on 15 January and that the final decision was made on 16 January.
Minister Malik Samarawickrama on an earlier occasion stated that they received the approval of the Attorney General on 16 January while the Secretary to the Ministry states approval was given on 15 January.
You might wonder what significance a one-day difference has, the agreement was signed on the 23rd of January, the final cabinet meeting before the official signing was set for the 16th of January. Following this cabinet meeting on the 17th of January, the cabinet secretary writes to the AG seeking his approval.
Why does the cabinet secretary need to write to the AG on the 17th of January if approval was already granted on the 15th according to the Min. Secretary and on the 16th according to the Minister himself?
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