The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) yesterday urged Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to refrain from signing the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement unless sufficient discussions took place.
“We call upon the Prime Minister who is a very senior politician of this country to refrain from proceeding with this move unless sufficient discussions takes place. We also urge the President to immediately inform the MCC and the US Government that even if the Agreement is signed it would be rescinded with immediate effect if the signing is done without placing the Agreement before Parliament,” it said.
BASL President Kalinga Indatissa, PC in a statement said they had been reliably informed that the Finance Ministry was in the process of making arrangements to sign the MCC yesterday.
“In our opinion, the Finance Ministry has no legal authority to sign the MCC Agreement which contains many more matters other than a simple agreement to borrow money from the lender. As explained to the Prime Minister by the BASL in August 2019, the proposed agreement goes much beyond a simple loan/ grant and contains many clauses dealing with land and jurisdiction. These are matters clearly outside the purview of the Finance Ministry and the Cabinet could not have authorized the Finance Minister to proceed with the MCC,” he said in the statement.
The BASL said it was rather unfortunate that the basic concepts of governance such as collective responsibility and Constitutional assignment of subjects were not considered at all in arriving at such decisions which have a serious impact on the sovereignty of the Nation.
“The BASL vehemently opposes such a move by the Finance Ministry and calls upon the Prime Minister to honour the undertaking given to us in July/August 2019 that the MCC would not be signed without taking into consideration the observations of the Bar. It is totally misleading for certain persons holding responsible positions to maintain that the MCC will be placed before Parliament after it is signed. Such a course of action is meaningless and once signed the Agreement will have a binding effect,” it said.