PM’s Office clashes with CCC over SOFA statement

8 July 2019 12:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Prime Minister’s Office was perturbed by the ‘CCC’s ignorance’ on the contents of the SOFA and the MCC
  • US Government provided US $490 million as a grant. After the signing of the compact it had to be presented to Parliament for legislative approval

 

By Kelum Bandara   

The Prime Minister’s Office yesterday hit out at Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, even saying ‘politicization of this reputable business conglomerate under your recent assumption of leadership is to be much regretted’.   

The CCC Chairman earlier issued a statement, expressing concern on the consequences surrounding the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Agreement with the United States. Dr. Wijayasuriya also sought transparency in this respect.   


E.M S.B. Ekanayake, the Secretary to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, replied to Mr. Wijayasuriya in writing in this regard on July 6. Mr. Ekanayake said that the Prime Minister’s Office was perturbed by the ‘CCC’s ignorance’ on the contents of the SOFA and the MCC.   

 

You will note that the government has adhered to the values of good governance and transparency to the CCC and its constituent members


“You will note that the government has adhered to the values of good governance and transparency to the CCC and its constituent members were informed of the ongoing negotiations with the MCC on April 4, 2016, April 7, 2016, April 8, 2016, June 14, 2016, June 22, 2016, April 5, 20I7, April 6, 2017, October 9 to October 19, 2018 and October 27, 2018.   
You have also been informed of the specific projects coming within the MCC as per the development plan. As you are aware, these projects were proposed by the Government of Sri Lanka. The US Government provided US $490 million as a grant. After the signing of the compact it had to be presented to Parliament for legislative approval - a legal procedure that is followed in the USA and some continental European countries.   


According to the Standing Orders of Parliament, this compact will be reviewed by the Oversight Committee and will be open to the interested parties,” Mr. Ekanayake wrote.   
Referring to the SOFA, he said there is no such proposal forwarded by the Defence Ministry to the Cabinet.  He also wrote, “While appreciating the opportunity to reiterate these facts pertaining to these matters, the Prime Minister is also somewhat surprised that the CCC which has been a stakeholder participating in the process is now claiming ignorance. In his view, this brings up the question of your own motives and credibility in following the line taken by certain political parties with their own political agenda for elections.”   


Besides, Mr. Ekanayake, in his letter to the CCC Chairman, attached annexures detailing out the contents of the MCC.    

 


CCC seeks transparency in dealing with SOFA, MCC

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) issued a statement earlier expressing concerns about these two agreements and asked for transparency.   
The CCC statement, “The Ceylon Chamber wishes to express its concern with regard to the increasing levels of speculation among its Membership and society at large on the consequences surrounding the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Agreement.   

Accordingly, the Ceylon Chamber requests the Government of Sri Lanka to provide an enhanced level of transparency with respect to these agreements and their potential consequences and also to clarify the exact position with regards to the current status of the negotiations and/or execution of these agreements.   


It would also add value to provide comfort to key stakeholders and the public at large, that due process including the securing of policy and legislative approvals, has and will be followed with respect to the processing and execution of these agreements.   


While it is inevitable that differences in opinion will prevail, compliance with due process combined with a transparent process encompassing stakeholder consultation will ensure that the national interest is protected. 

 
A commitment to transparency by all parties will ensure a fair and balanced discussion among relevant stakeholders on the merits of Sri Lanka moving forward with these agreements.   

 

 

 

  • While it is inevitable that differences in opinion will prevail
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