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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Government ready to introduce further amendments to Port City Bill – Minister Mahindananda

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The Government is ready to bring in further amendments to the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill in line with a Supreme Court verdict, Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said.

Addressing a press conference yesterday to respond to the allegations against the proposed Bill, the Minister said the Government would not present any Bills that contravene the Constitution or existing laws.

He said the Government would withdraw any clause if the Supreme Court determines that it goes against the Law, adding that the Government would stand by the Supreme Court’s opinion on the Bill.

He also strongly refuted the claims that the proposed Bill would allow money laundering. “I am ready for a debate on this with anyone. We have a Money Laundering Act and all transactions are subject to that law,” he said.

The Minister said the Colombo Port City would be a turning point for Sri Lanka, observing that Singapore achieved fast development by facilitating foreign investments.

“We are doing everything above board. The Bill has been presented in line with the tax, land and financial laws of the country. The Port City will be an economic hub. We have facilitated a one stop shop for the purpose. That is why the Opposition is not happy with it. There are foreign countries behind criticism against this Bill. Those who speak against it are being paid money,” he commented.

Commenting on the recent remarks by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the Minister said he could have first inquired about the matter at the Government Group Meeting. “He never attends the Government Group Meetings, even though he is a Government MP. He criticized the 20th Amendment in the same manner, but ultimately voted for it. It is not fair to behave in this manner just because he was deprived of a ministerial post. National affairs should not be confused with private matters,” he said.

Responding to allegations that the Colombo Port City does not come under the purview of the Colombo Municipal Council, Aluthgamage said the Katunayake Free Trade Zone also does not come under any Local Government Body.

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