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Don't sign FTA with S'pore: Professionals tell Govt.

23 January 2018 06:32 am - 15     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Ahead of the government’s move to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore, a collective of professional movements said yesterday there were serious violations of the law, best practices and good governance in the negotiation process of the agreement.

Issuing a communique, they said they took steps to inform all the Cabinet Ministers including President Maithripala Sirisena urging them not to grant Cabinet approval to go ahead with the agreement.

The professional bodies that signed the agreement are Government Medical Officers Association,· Inland Revenue Trade Unions Joint Committee, Customs Officers Union, Ceylon Bank Employees Union, Association of Information Technology Professionals, Engineering Union of Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau, · Government Ayurveda Medical Officers Association, Public Service United Nurses’ Union, Government Dental Surgeons Association, National University Teachers Association, Railway Professionals Trade Unions Alliance, CPC Engineers Union, Lanka Pragathi Teachers Association, Progressive Bank Employees Front and Executive Officers' Association of Sri Lanka Technical College

The statement said the Cabinet approval had been obtained during the cabinet meeting held on January 16, 2018. As per media reports, this is the same meeting that the President addressed the Cabinet vociferously against corruption. Unfortunately, the Singapore-Sri Lanka FTA which was a result of a corrupt process has obtained the Cabinet approval at the same meeting. We would like to mention that Professionals’ National Front brought these malpractices to the attention of the President in a letter dated on September 13, 2017 and made sure that the letter received his attention as well.

The statement said, “Professionals and industrialists of Sri Lanka continuously requested to make a national trade policy for Sri Lanka before jump into FTA negotiations with our major importing countries. It is evident that government had accepted that it is a due requirement because Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade appointed a New Zealand nationalist, Dr. Ravi Ratnayake to draft a so-called “New Trade Policy”. That draft which clearly shows the lack of professionalism in the field has also been able to obtain the cabinet approval. It is a very bad practice to ask one person to write a national trade policy, especially when he is already in the FTA negotiation process with several countries. This New Zealander is representing Sri Lanka in negotiations of FTAs which is a complete conflict of interest.

The late Dr. Saman Kelegama was the chairman of a leading multinational company in Sri Lanka which imports several million rupees worth of goods annually from India, China and Singapore. Surprisingly, he was the chief negotiator for Sri Lanka for FTAs with very same countries at the same time, until his demise. This is an unbelievable conflict of interest caused with plenty of evidence. Though he has passed away, several rounds of current negotiations have taken place while he was leading the Sri Lankan negotiation team.

Mr. K.J. Weerasinghe, the successor of Kelegama, has been in the negotiation team while obtaining a salary as an adviser to apparel industry of Sri Lanka which is another serious conflict of interest.

  Comments - 15

  • Dee Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:15 AM

    A set of highly inefficient and corrupt so called 'professionals ' now shivering about their 'complacent ' future.

    Munshif Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:20 AM

    These so called professionals are against it as they won’t be able get their bribes out of the taxes, shame!!

    Mano Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:29 AM

    These fellows are nothing, Free Education has given these idiots a platform to speak from , simply ignore them.

    Udda Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:51 AM

    Pathetic professionals. These are the fruits of our local university education system.

    Ceylon Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:55 AM

    These so call proffesionals are only want to keep srilanka poor and lawless.

    Thanos Tuesday, 23 January 2018 09:58 AM

    The moment I saw GMOA I was, like, "nevermind. Can happily dismiss this article".

    varunadhar Tuesday, 23 January 2018 01:11 PM

    This association called "GMOA" is on to everything but treating and securing the rights of patients!

    Janaka Tuesday, 23 January 2018 02:09 PM

    These corrupted government officers who are engaged in FTA negotiations should be sued.

    Arnold Tuesday, 23 January 2018 02:48 PM

    No FTA cannot be beneficial to Sri Lanka as we export only 2 things, tea and housemaids.

    Leel Tuesday, 23 January 2018 02:56 PM

    Even if this is true, when I saw GMO name in the list, l do not against the signing of this agreement.

    Nihal Tuesday, 23 January 2018 03:11 PM

    When GMOA is a part of anything where political motive is there. Their only concern is bring back Mahinda to power. so we can simply ignore

    Vincent Tuesday, 23 January 2018 03:46 PM

    Well done,Please protest in signing this agreement,Prsident think of our nation don't sign this agreement please

    KAMAL Tuesday, 23 January 2018 04:32 PM

    We all as a nation must get together in protesting of signing this Asset selling agreements,Mr President please intervene and save our valuable assets from this type of agreements

    Ajantha Tuesday, 23 January 2018 05:17 PM

    From when the Trade Unions became Professional Associations is a big question. Entire country now knows what these trade unions are up for.

    srinath.gunaratne Tuesday, 23 January 2018 05:19 PM

    Has anyone seen this agreement out side the cabinet?Is it in any govt web site?Did people get a chance to study?Was it ratified by legal dept?Another imposed trade agreement?

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