One year for Singapore-SL FTA amendments | Daily News

One year for Singapore-SL FTA amendments

People should not be anxious about the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Sri Lanka and Singapore since there is a one year period to bring any necessary amendments, Ports and Shipping Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

“There is a specific clause in the FTA which says that both parties can propose any amendment to the agreement within one year,” the Minister said. Addressing the media yesterday at the SLFP Headquarters, Minister Samarasinghe said that some groups are trying to gain political mileage by levelling baseless criticisms and allegations.

“Claiming that the local industries will face serious consequences as a result of the FTA, they asked the Government to abolish the current agreement.

But, there is no need to abolish the FTA since we can bring the necessary amendments,” the Minister said.

“We have to wait for two months to take any decision with regard to the FTA since the report of the Independent Committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to carefully study the FTA is scheduled to be submitted to the President within the next two months.”

As mentioned by Development Strategies and Internal Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, the FTA has already come in to force. But there is a chance for both parties to bring amendments to it.

“So, if Sri Lanka feels that the agreement needs to be amended in some way, we can propose that. That is an agreed provision. That is why the President has appointed a committee to carefully study the agreement and submit a comprehensive report comprising proposals and recommendations,” he added.

This decision has been taken after considering the diverse views being expressed by various groups regarding the agreement. “In doing so, the President has again shown that he is a sensitive leader who respects public views,” Minister Samarasinghe said.

The Committee is chaired by former Colombo University Vice-Chancellor Deshamanya Professor W. D. Lakshman and also consists of former Professor of Economics at the Open University Prof. Sirimevan Colombage, former Professor of Economics of the University of Kelaniya Prof. Ajitha Tennakoon, Economic Consultant Dr. Sanath Jayanetti and former

Central Bank Assistant Governor R.A. Jayatissa.

Responding to a question by a journalist, Minister Samarasinghe said that there is no legal barrier to sign a Free Trade Agreement without presenting it to Parliament. But, all MPs received a copy of the agreement and they can propose any amendment to the agreement. All the MPs cannot be in the Cabinet.

“According to the Constitution, it is required to get a two thirds majority in Parliament to sign some agreements but not for the FTAs. But it is better to include FTAs to the category of agreements required to be presented to Parliament in the future when bringing amendments to the Constitution,” the Minister said.

“This FTA is not a personal agreement of Minister Malik Samarawickrama. It is unfair to criticise him since as the subject Minister, he has followed all the legal procedures when signing the agreement. Therefore, the entire Cabinet is responsible for this FTA,” Minister Samarasinghe said.

Singapore and Sri Lanka signed the FTA on January 23 seeking to deepen economic ties and facilitate greater trade flows between the two countries.

The Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) was signed by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran and Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Maithripala Sirisena witnessed the signing in Colombo.

This agreement was approved by the Cabinet on January 16, 2018 after receiving the Attorney General’s opinion and was signed within a week on January 23.

 


 

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