Glaring issues in the Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA

Glaring issues in the Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA

Written by Staff Writer

02 Jan, 2019 | 10:01 pm

Colombo (News1st) – The Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade agreement has been dogged by numerous issues since it was signed. The agreement was so controversial that the President even appointed a committee to probe the FTA. The subject was brought into the limelight once again with the release of this committee’s report.

The report provides many answers to a statement issued by the Minister of Development Strategy and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama in Parliament. On the 17th of July 2018 during the parliamentary debate on Sri Lanka – Singapore FTA Minister Samarawickrama stated that he contacted the Attorney General regarding the agreement and that it had been stated that there was no impediment against it. Minister Samarawickrama challenged the members of Parliament to “file a case to see what happens”.

The document sent by the AG department stating that there is no legal impediment has an issue of its own. According to the report compiled by the President’s commission, the document which is supposed to be signed by the Attorney General has only been signed by Senior State Counsel Nirmalan Wigneswaran. The document does not bear the signature of the AG or the Senior additional solicitor general who can place his or her signature for the AG.

Who is Nirmalan Wigneswaran?

Nirmalan Wigneswaran has been sitting on the sub-committee on trade remedies, and in the committee on legal affairs. He has been involved in the negotiating committee for the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement.

The committee of experts appointed by the President points out that it is problematic for a person on the technical negotiation committee of the FTA, to again approve the FTA on behalf of the AG’s department.

In another bizarre move, it was reported today that Minister Malik Samarawickrama has appointed his own 3 member committee to review the report compiled by the President’s committee of experts.

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