Professional groups in Sri Lanka, engaged as key stakeholders in discussions with the Government on proposed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with India, China and Singapore, on Monday urged the visiting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong not to sign the FTA, as scheduled by the Sri Lanka Government.
In a letter to the Singapore Premier who arrives today (Monday) on an official visit, Nalaka C. Jayaweera, Chartered Architect – on behalf of the United Professional Movement (UPM, said there are many legal implications on Singaporean investors and Singapore FTA as the government of Sri Lanka has not protected the rights of any foreigner and had failed to protect the rights of its own people.
Thus, he said, “… with great respect we sincerely request you, not to sign the proposed Singapore - Sri Lanka FTA as confirmed by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers”.
Professional groups have been opposing the proposed FTAs on the basis that certain fundamental laws and guidelines need to be set in place first before FTAs are formalised.
“We are not against any FTA, but we always maintained that the domestic regulations as per WTO framework and the legal framework of the country should be geared to handle trade liberalization; like in your country where you are having one of the best legal models in the world. It is no doubt that without such any party can incur losses beyond any expectation,” the letter to the Singapore PM said.
“Though a haphazard consultative process was on for the last more than two years, not a ‘single letter’ has been produced by the government to date to have a proper domestic regulations and legal system. The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka maintained that he will sought the approval from the Parliament before signing of any international agreement. But interestingly Sri Lankan Parliament is scheduled to sit only from January 23 onwards and to date there is no such agreement before the Parliament,” Mr. Jayaweera added.
Singapore, he pointed out, being a country led by principles, strong legal framework, and high level of transparency and honesty should not get involved with a country which violates the rights of its own people. – ENDS -
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