The claim cited from last week has been often repeated by MP Wimal Weerawansa, including in parliament on July 31st, where he implies that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States has proposed an economic corridor in Sri Lanka from Colombo to Trincomalee.
FactCheck evaluated the validity of the MP’s claim using information available in the public domain, namely the ‘Execution Version’ of the MCC Agreement (MCCA) published by the Ministry of Finance, the Updated National Physical Planning Policy and Plan 2050 and the National Physical Plan 2011-2030 published by the Department of National Physical Planning (DNPP) and the collected works of former Chairman of the Urban Development Authority, Prof. M.W.J.G. Mendis.
We read all 83 pages of the MCCA and could not find in it any reference to the economic corridor mentioned by the MP. Instead, we found the plans for this economic corridor in the government’s National Physical Plan 2011-2030 prepared in 2011 – which MP Weerawansa oversaw as Minister of Housing & Construction from 2010 to 2015.
The Updated National Physical Planning Policy and Plan 2050, published in 2016, also embraces and expands on the same ideas. These government plans build on previous proposals dating back to 1973 to connect the ports of Colombo and Trincomalee. Pages 28 to 34 of the MCCA describes funding for five initiatives relating to technical and policy aspects of land management: Mapping, Registering, Valuation, Governance, and Granting. The financial summary on page 39 of the MCCA describes only limited financing for road improvement activities, and that is for the Central Ring Road network (not an east-west corridor), to improve the safety and speed of movement, as further detailed in page 24 of the MCCA.
Overall, the MCC agreement has not proposed an east-west economic corridor, as the MP claims. Neither does it allocate funding for its construction. Therefore, we classify the MP’s statement as FALSE.
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