We will support Government to retain GSP+: UNP
The UNP will support the Government in Parliament to pass legislation to give legal effect to international conventions it has ratified, if the European Union (EU) says that such laws will have to be in place for it to extend the preferable trade status to Sri Lanka after this December under the General Preference System Scheme (GSP +).
“We are willing to extend the necessary support to the Government to obtain the two-thirds majority needed to approve such legislation but the Government has to listen to what the EU says and act,” UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said.
The MP made these comments when asked about the allegations made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday with members of the Joint Apparel Association Federation (JAAF) that the Leader of the Opposition had written to the Commissioner of the EU for External Relations Benita Ferrero Waldener stating that the apparel industry had requested the Government to take action to change the Constitution.
The President showed a copy of the letter to the JAAF delegation and asked if they had made any request but they had denied it.
The President also told members of the apparel industry that he is dismayed that some political leaders are damaging Sri Lanka’s case by irresponsible behaviour at a time when the Government is working hard to get the GSP + benefits for the country.
The President also said that the EU has at no time suggested that the Constitution of the country should be amended as a condition for obtaining GSP+ benefits. On the contrary, the effect of the recent ruling by the Supreme Court is that that the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are fully operative in Sri Lanka and are enforceable through the judicial process in this country, the President said.
Mr. Kiriella said that the UNP is not trying to block the country from continuing to get favourable trade status from the EU but said that losing the seat on the Human Rights Council last week is an eye opener to the Government to get its act in order before the GSP+ status comes up or review in December.
“It is still not too late for the Government to act and put its record straight by showing it is serious about acting in accordance with internationally accepted laws.
The EU granted the concession to Sri Lanka 2005 under a scheme applicable to vulnerable countries with special developmental needs that cover around 7200 products, which can enter the EU duty free.