Ceylon Chamber wants more transparency on Sri Lanka’s defence, aid deals with U.S.

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern over defence and aid deals Sri Lanka is to sign with the United States and called for more transparency on the agreements.

It said in a statement the government should get legislative approval for the planned Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Agreement.

The SOFA, which allows the American military to operate in the island, and MCC, which offers a grant for a land and transport project, have raised concern the U.S. could use Sri Lanka for military purposes.

The Ceylon Chamber said it “wishes to express its concern with regard to the increasing levels of speculation among its membership and society at large on the consequences surrounding the proposed Status of Forces Agreement and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Agreement.

It asked the government of Sri Lanka to provide an “enhanced level of transparency” on the agreements and their potential consequences and to clarify their current status of negotiations or execution.

“It would also add value to provide comfort to key stakeholders and the public at large, that due process including the securing of policy and legislative approvals, has and will be followed with respect to the processing and execution of these agreements,” it said.

“While it is inevitable that differences in opinion will prevail, compliance with due process combined with a transparent process encompassing stakeholder consultation will ensure that the national interest is protected.

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“A commitment to transparency by all parties will ensure a fair and balanced discussion among relevant stakeholders on the merits of Sri Lanka moving forward with these agreements.”
(COLOMBO, 03 July, 2019)