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 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. (Kelum Bandara)