The land projects envisaged in the agreement to receive US$480 million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States will enhance tenure security and tradability of land for smallholders, women, and firms, a spokesman said.
A US embassy spokesman said it will increase access to land rights information, helping maximize government revenue from rents on State lands that are leased to the private sector for commercial development and reducing opportunities for exploitation and corruption.
“By improving the land policy environment and legal framework, Sri Lanka will be able to attract more investment to the economy and improve government services in the sector,” he said while responding to allegations that the US was trying to take control of land in Sri Lanka under the MCC compact.
“The US will not own, control, or in any way administer land in Sri Lanka under the MCC compact. The Government of Sri Lanka will retain oversight and control of land and roads undergoing improvement as part of the MCC compact. Before the proposed compact can move forward, MCC’s Board of Directors must review and approve the program. As it does with all compacts we expect Sri Lanka to remain committed to democratic governance, which includes respect for fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. If a country demonstrates a pattern of actions inconsistent with that commitment, there can be consequences for the partnership, including suspending or terminating assistance,” the spokesman said.
Commenting on the transport projects outlined in the compact agreement, he said it will modernize urban transport infrastructure and networks, providing Sri Lankans with safe, reliable public transportation.It will also reduce the time and vehicle operating costs required to move people and goods to markets and ports in the Western Province, reducing food wastage and increasing consumer choice.“Smart” traffic signalling systems will reduce the time Sri Lankans spend in traffic.
Meanwhile, the government seeks to amend the compact agreement to be signed with the US Millennium Challenge Corporation to qualify for the grant of US$480 million, a source said yesterday.
President Maithripala Sirisena spoke to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other relevant Ministers recently on the agreement to be presented in Parliament. According to government sources, they decided to bring about changes to the original agreement. (Kelum Bandara)