Freehold land ownership Bill, a ruse - Dayasiri | Daily News


Freehold land ownership Bill, a ruse - Dayasiri

SLFP General Secretary Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara yesterday charged that the decision taken by the Government to provide freehold land ownership to those living on state lands would drive poor peasant families off the state land they had settled on for generations. He accused the Government of a manoeuvre to enable it to sell off state land to foreign companies.

Jayasekara voiced these accusations when briefing news media yesterday at the SLFP headquarters. He claimed that the main purpose of granting freehold ownership of State lands was to sell state lands to foreign companies and wanted to know whether there was a connection between this decision and Millennium Challenge Corporation Agreement (MCC) which the Government is expected to sign with the United States of America. Jayasekara pointed out that the policy of granting land ownership to landless families was adopted during late Prime Minister D.S.Senanayake’s era mainly for agricultural development purposes with the intention of uplifting the living standards of poor farmer families. The new landowners had to struggle a lot to convert those lands into agricultural lands.

“Due to the existing legal procedure of transferring those lands, the ownership of land prevailed within the family and the third generation of settlers are currently occupying these lands.There is a risk of losing these lands to the original owners once they receive freehold ownership.They will then become victims of businessmen, local and foreign investors and racketeers,” the MP said. He further charged that the Bill regarding this initiative has been submitted without the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers. “The Bill with amendments proposed by President Maithripala Sirisena should be presented for Cabinet approval before it is submitted to Parliament. But Lands Minister Gayantha Karaunatillake has submitted the Bill to Parliament without presenting it to Cabinet due to the pressure put on him by his party superiors,” the MP alleged.

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