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Wednesday May 12th, 2021
Politics

Sri Lanka parliament postpones controversial Port City bill debate: report

The sun sets over the Parliament at Shri Jayewardenepura

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament will not debate the controversial Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill tomorrow as previously planned, NewsFirst, a private Sri Lankan news network, reported a short while ago quoting Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Party leaders have agreed to postpone the debate indefinitely as parliament has yet to receive the Supreme Court’s verdict on the bill, the NewsFirst report said.

Eighteen petitions have been filed in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court against the bill, with detractors calling it a threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

Yesterday, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) accused the government of rushing the debate, calling for a minimum of three days to debate its contents.

The bill was scheduled to be taken up for debate tomorrow from 10am to 8pm without adjourning for lunch, as per a statement from parliament last week.

The proposed Colombo Port City Economic Commission has been criticised by various actors including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, opposition lawmakers and the Buddhist clergy.

SJB lawyers said on April 17 the bill has given the proposed commission too much discretion and has denied equal opportunity to Sri Lankans who did not have black money stashed abroad.

The possibility of non-nationals being appointed to the Commission could end up with the fate of the people in the area being decided by foreigners, SJB lawyers said.

The BASL meanwhile said the law may affect the unitary state, sovereignty of the people, fundamental rights and powers of the parliament, the BASL’s executive committee said.

On April 23, the Supreme Court concluded the consideration of petitions filed challenging the bill, announcing that its determination will be directed to the Speaker of Parliament. Related: (Colombo/May04/2021)

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