Parliamentary debate on Port City Bill: Only after SC spl. determination says the Speaker 

A date for the debate on the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill in Parliament would be scheduled after the Supreme Court (SC) special determination on the Bill is given in connection with the petitions filed against the Bill last week, Speaker of the Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told The Sunday Morning

When the proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was presented to Parliament two weeks ago, Chief Opposition Whip Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Lakshman Kiriella requested a separate date for the debate on the Bill. 

However, the Speaker denied the request, and declined to hold a debate on the Bill next week, saying: “A date can only be fixed once the SC special determination is given in connection with the petitions filed against the Bill.” 

The Bill, titled the Colombo Port City Economic Commission, was gazetted on 23 March. It aims to provide for a special economic zone, and to establish a commission to grant registrations, licenses, authorisations, and other approvals to operate businesses in the said economic zone. 

However, petitions were filed last week by the SJB, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the United National Party (UNP), the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), and labour trade unions, challenging the constitutional validity of the proposed legislation for the Port City.   

Meanwhile, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has also filed petitions seeking a declaration that the Bill in whole or in part requires approval by the people via referendum and a special majority in Parliament under the provisions of Article 84(2) of the Constitution. 

The petitioners state that provisions and clauses in the Bill, as presently constituted, are inconsistent with one or more articles of the Constitution. 

The cases are scheduled to be heard by a five-judge bench of the SC tomorrow (19). 

The Colombo Port City is a development built as an extension of the Central Business District of Colombo. Spanning 269 hectares of reclaimed land from the sea, the Colombo Port City aims to be one of South Asia’s premier residential, retail, and business destinations, offering planned city living alongside the Indian Ocean.