By Sandun A Jayasekera
The Cabinet has decided not to sign the proposed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact with the US in its present format because certain clauses contravene the Constitution and compromises the security and the sovereignty of the country.
Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Bandula Gunawardena said the Sri Lankan government was ready to have a dialogue with the US on the MCC with the objective of removing the contentious segments of the compact and sign it after the Cabinet and Parliament approves an amended version.
The four-member committee led by Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan reviewed the MCC agreement has handed over an interim report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“It has recommended that the agreement not be signed in its present form as it would create a lot of problems for Sri Lanka. Some of the conditions contravene the Constitution and others are an affront to the National Security and Independence of the country,” the minister said. Responding to Daily Mirror, he said the MCC agreement had been drafted by the UNP without any concern to the country’s interests and on the request of former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“What the yahapalana government had in mind when the MCC agreement was drafted was the interests of the private sector and the civil society including the NGOs. There is no major disagreement with regard to the transport sector reforms but dangers remain with regard to land,” the minister said.
He said if the government succeeds in renegotiating the MCC compact with the US, it would be first subjected to a public debate prior to being presented in Parliament.
The Cabinet first approved the US$480 million MCC development assistance grant on October, 29, 2019. However, President Rajapaksa suspended it in December and appointed a four – member committee to review the agreement and submit recommendations on the merits and demerits of the agreement.The other members of the expert committee are former Transport Ministry Secretary D.S. .Jayaweera, Attorney Nihal Jayawardana and PC Nalaka Jayaweera.
The four-member committee led by Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan reviewed the MCC agreement has handed over an interim report to the President and the Prime Minister
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