PM accuses JO of attempting to sabotage FTA with Singapore


Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition (JO) was attempting to sabotage the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement with unfounded criticisms, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

The PM said so, fielding a question posed by JO MP Bandula Gunawardena, who alleged that the government had entered into the trade agreement without informing Parliament or initiating an open dialogue with professionals’ associations and the general public. Gunawardena called on the government to suspend the implementation of the agreement and start an open dialogue.

The PM said the agreement had been inked after it received the Cabinet approval and that a panel of officials had conducted extensive discussions on its content. He said the agreement was in line with the country’s laws and policies and that due procedure had been followed in signing it.

The PMā€ˆsaid: "I cannot understand why you are running after FTA with Singapore. It was during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time that Chinese engineers and labourers came here in large numbers. There were well-experienced engineers among them and we benefitted from their knowledge. Even Bangladesh workers were brought in here for road development projects. We did not hire foreign workers when the Mahaweli Project was carried out or when we built huge industrial zones."

The PM said the JO did not practise what it preached. "All your monies have been deposited with foreign banks in Dubai, Seychelles Hong Kong etc. You do not deposit your money with banks in Sri Lanka. You say one thing to the country, but do exactly the opposite. Did you inform Parliament when the Port City and Shangri La lands were given outright? Did you seek our views before embarking on the Hambantota project?"

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