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JVP to launch major campaign against Singapore-SL FTA

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

 

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is to launch a major campaign next week to defeat the recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore, JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake said.

Rathnayake told The Morning that the whole local production sector would be badly affected if the government failed to withdraw the already signed agreement.

Even though the agreement was signed by Singapore Prime Minister, it did not mean that the agreement was only for the free trade between the two countries but Sri Lanka would be fully opened to any other countries which were doing businesses with Singapore, MP Ratnayake explained.

Singapore was basically famous for its financial services but there were so many businessmen from India, Thailand, Malaysia and other countries. They would also be able to trade freely with Sri Lanka by keeping Singapore as a centre, he added.

JVP would distribute 100,000 booklets which explain the dangerous situation of the trade sector of the country if the government goes ahead with the agreement, he said.

Commenting on the statements made by the members of Joint Opposition (JO) regarding a threat of Sri Lanka being a garbage dumping yard by Singapore FTA, JVP MP said JO should stop misleading the public by making false statements which had no base at all. “It only advantageous for the government,” he said.

The Sri Lanka-Singapore FTA was inked in January 2018; however, it is yet to be ratified by Parliament. As details began to emerge of the FTA, professional bodies took the initiative to filing Fundamental Rights petitions with the Supreme Court against it.

Considering the diverse views being expressed by various parties regarding the agreement, President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed an independent committee of prominent economists to carefully study and compile a report on the Singapore – Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

The committee is chaired by former Vice-Chancellor of Colombo University, Deshamanya Professor W.D. Lakshman. Former Professor of Economics at the Open University Prof. Sirimevan Colombage, former Professor of Economics of the University of Kelaniya Prof. Ajitha Tennakoon, economic consultant Dr. Sanath Jayanetti and former Assistant Governor of Central Bank R.A. Jayatissa have been appointed as members of the committee.

However the government sources said that even though the committee was appointed, the agreement would go ahead without any amendments.