No provision for foreign influence – Cabraal | Sunday Observer
Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill

No provision for foreign influence – Cabraal

18 April, 2021

State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms Ajith Nivard Cabraal assured that there is no provision in the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill to let China or any other country to have influence over ‘Sri Lanka’s City of the Future’.

This law is only to set up the Commission which will act as a single window facilitator for foreign investors to ensure ease of doing business in the country, he said. He said this law will help attract a large number of investors into the country.

“This is merely a single window facilitation law and it is being used by the Opposition to create a bogey and to deprive the people of getting 83,000 job opportunities. I am surprised that they use these petty things to achieve their own ends and then deprive the people of their jobs, the State Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.”

Minister Cabraal said if there is any provision in this law to have a separate state or a separate colony of any other country, they can challenge it in courts, if they so wish.

If there is any danger to the unitary state, then the JVP’s comment will be upheld by the Supreme Court and they will strike down this Bill. They can test whether there is anything constitutionally in this law which will provide for a separate state or a separate colony.

He said, “What the Opposition is uttering is an absolute lie. This is just like another diabolical lie such as the ‘Golden Horses’.”

Cabraal said this Port City project is a turning point in our country. That is why all these Opposition politicians are disturbed and running around. They know with this law, we could attract investments to Sri Lanka and that will be the end of their politics.

That is why they are now gasping for breath and somehow hope to disturb the passage of this Bill so that their ulterior motives will be achieved.

Responding to the Opposition claim that the Colombo Port City has been removed from the purview of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), State Minister Cabraal said the entire Port City will be administered by the Colombo Port City Commission. You cannot have two or three people administering a particular area.

That is why it has been removed from the CMC because it is being administered by another authority which has even more powers. So, we don’t have any problem with that because that is the way it should be.

Otherwise, investors have to go from pillar to post. We don’t want that to be encountered by new investors who are coming to Sri Lanka. All actions that have to be taken by the CMC will be channelled through this Colombo Port Commission.

Minister of Mass Media Keheliya Rambukwella told a media conference yesterday that the Opposition is engaged in a futile attempt to create some sort of controversial situation regarding the Port City Bill.

It was under the leadership of the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa who took over the challenge to construct the Colombo Port City.

When this project was launched, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament that the Port City would create an issue with regard to the country’s sand and metal deposits and vowed that they will somehow stop this project.

The Minister said when the future success of the Port City project is evident; the hypocrisy of these Opposition politicians comes to light. They attempt to create a situation by which they can stop the project displaying their hypocrisy.

Minister Rambukwella said that at present the entire world has faced an economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, the economic growth of all countries has more or less collapsed. As a small country, we have also been subjected to this pressure. Our tourism industry and foreign employment have also faced setbacks. The only available option to rebuild the country is to attract foreign investors to Sri Lanka. Therefore, a decision was taken to give strength to the Port City project and bring investors to Sri Lanka through a systematic program.

However, we have not decided to bring this Port City Bill as an urgent Bill and it has been presented as an ordinary Bill. We have not bypassed the Executive, Legislature or the Judiciary. All issues highlighted by the Opposition are two-hundred percent false. Therefore, we could debate this issue at any time.

He said one of the key issues raised by the Opposition is that this Port City land doesn’t belong to us.

A Gazette notification had been signed by the then Minister Wajira Abeywardana on August 2, 2019 to integrate the Port City land into the mainland.

Thereafter, the then President Maithripala Sirisena had vested this land with the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Therefore, it is an absurd argument that the Port City is not a part of our map.

“We also categorically deny the claim made by SLPP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe that the Government attempted to move this Port City Bill as an urgent Bill.

At the same time, he said that 21 petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court regarding this Bill. Therefore, there is no validity in his argument. Actually, we have nothing to hide about this Bill. It was obvious Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe spoke with hatred. It is regretted to note as a President’s Counsel, he has not been able to grasp the reality,” he said.

Minister Rambukwella assured that the President, Prime Minister and the Government will not resort to any move which would be detrimental to the country. Our sole intention is to take forward this Port City project which would definitely pave the way to strengthen our economy.