MCC pact cannot be implemented without public opinion, review committee says

MCC pact cannot be implemented without public opinion, review committee says

MCC pact cannot be implemented without public opinion, review committee says

Written by Staff Writer

27 Jun, 2020 | 10:35 pm

COLOMBO (News1st) : The Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement must not be implemented without an expert study, public opinion, and Parliament approval, a review committee has said.

The committee, appointed to review the MCC agreement, had submitted its final report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently.

Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan headed the committee that comprised D.S. Jayaweera, Nihal Jayawardena and Nalaka Jayaweera.

The proposed MCC agreement, would see a USD 450 million grant being given for land administration and transport sector projects, that would be implemented by MCA Sri Lanka.

The decision making power of MCA Sri Lanka lies with MCC, as the local office cannot conduct itself outside the framework of US laws, in relation to statutory matters.

The ownership of all data, information and intellectual property relating to the projects will also be held by MCC.

The committee points out that carrying out these projects through a different company is an act that disregards the country’s law, as it differs from the established procedure under which foreign funded projects are operated by the Treasury.

It observes that the tender process pertaining to these projects also differs from the accepted system in the country.

The company can leave the country in the event of any problem that arises with respect to these projects, by letting the blame fall on the shoulders of the Sri Lankan government, according to the review report.

According to the agreement that has been drafted, the pact must be submitted before Parliament for its approval, a move that would see certain laws in the US being implemented in the country.

According to the committee, the acceptance of the agreement had been prevented due to the political situation that arose when the Good Governance government was on the verge of accepting it, during which the then President Maithripala Sirisena sacked his Prime Minister and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post.

The committee observes that agreeing upon an international agreement does not lie solely on the hands of the Executive. It pointed out that such an action can dampen the independence of the people.

On the same lines, the committee proposed that a clause which would require the majority consent of Parliament to ink an international agreement must be included in the constitution.

The review report revealed that the government in 2004 had held discussions over the MCC project, and that no discussions had taken place from 2005 to 2015.

However, the Daily Mirror newspaper citing the US Embassy had reported that the government under Mahinda Rajapaksa had requested for the MCC grant in 2005 for the first time.

The matters concerning the agreement that were continuously highlighted by News 1st, have been reaffirmed in the report of the review committee.

It is very evident that the MCC agreement disregards the country’s laws, and its sovereignty.

However, suspicion has arisen as to whether the MCC agreement would be implemented after amending its clauses, and obtaining the approval of Parliament.

Two projects that include the development of the transport system and land administration have been proposed under the agreement.

Among them, the land administration project has heavily criticized in the report.

The review committee reveals that during the preliminary discussions concerning the MCC agreement, attention had been drawn towards several areas including energy apart from transport and land administration.

At the time of releasing its final report, the US Ambassador had met with the Minister of Power, and expressed willingness of the US to support energy related projects in the country.

 

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