Ranil issues statement concerning Port City Bill

In a statement issued today (22), Ranil Wickremesinghe voiced his opinion on the Colombo Port City Commission Bill.

He states that during the time of the last government, he proposed the establishment of a modest financial centre which had no connection to the original proposal of the Port City.

He added that this modest financial centre was going to focus mainly on offshore services versus relying on banking. Wickremesinghe noted that the then proposed Colombo Financial City Bill was within the jurisdiction of the Government of Sri Lanka and it was totally the government’s responsibility to look after the economy.

After adding a number of separate laws to deal with different subjects, Wikremesinghe noted that the obligations with China Harbour were left intact and also included in the laws.

Commenting on the new Port City Economic Commision Bill, he stated that it seeks to take away the powers of the legislature through various means.

“This new bill is different as it seeks to take away the powers of the legislature and seeks to bypass the Parliament through various rules and regulations, thereby doing away with the powers of the judiciary,” he said.

He also stated that there is no cabinet responsibility as well because ministers have been deprived of decision making powers.

Wickremesinghe also addressed the concerns about the Port City becoming a hub for money laundering. He stated that because Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where the authority in charge of economic actions related to finance or offshore services deals with gambling, this can be open to the interpretation that money laundering cannot be prevented.

In his statement, he also questioned why the government “sneaked” this Bill in just before the new year and also questioned further as to why the powers of the Ministry of Finance have been taken away.

He further stated that due to the fact that all Sri Lankans would like to see a successful financial structure taking place in the country, he asked the government to let everyone discuss this matter for the next two to three months to establish a bill where the constitutional structure can be preserved.

“If you are genuine, put it up for discussion within and outside parliament and lets see how we can actually bring about a good paper dealing with subjects of offshore services and finances,” he said.