Business Times

Inconsistencies in land take-over law

Glaring inconsistencies and bungling are emerging in the recent land take-over law with Pelwatte now protesting that it doesn’t come under the ambit of these laws. This week, Pelwatte Sugar, which says it is yet to receive any intimation from the government that the land has been taken over, wrote to the Treasury Secretary raising some salient issues pertaining to its lease.

It says the land was leased to Pelwatte, more than 25 years ago on 27th June 1985 whereas the new Act applies only to under-utilised land that has been leased within a period of 20 years prior to the date of passing of the bill, ie – from 1991 onwards. A Pelwatte Sugar company spokesman said that some state officials had entered the premises and issued instructions to staff but other than that no formal take-over of the land and assets has commenced.

“We are continuing with sugar and milk production,” he said. “It’s a right royal bungle. Leases have no right (rightly or wrongly) to operate the land as it is owned and operated by the government. Furthermore the law specifies that action will be taken if assets are stripped etc,” asked one analyst. Further compounding matters is a statement issued by the Central Bank last week on this law where it said that there has been no expropriation or nationalization of private assets. “

.it should be noted that the process as set out in the new law, would not deprive the existing operator or company from reaching an understanding or agreement with the Competent Authority to operate the asset or enterprise in keeping with the original purpose of the Agreement,” it said. Some weeks back, the Business Times reported that another land listed in the schedule – Chalmers Granaries – was already vested in the state, before the take-over.

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