An Echelon Media Company
Saturday December 3rd, 2022

Sri Lanka top court suggests changes to Colombo Port City Commission Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has suggested a series of changes to set up a Colombo Port City Commission to run a special economic zone on land reclaimed by a Chinese company so that the law complies with the constitution.

Sri Lanka’s parliamentary speaker read out the changes suggested by the Supreme Court to avoid a two-thirds majority or a referendum.

The Court has suggested that the authority of regulatory agencies be preserved allowing them to make decisions and communicate the decisions instead of giving concurrence by compulsion as contained in the bill.

The SC also proposed changes preventing tax exemptions from being allowed outside the Colombo Port City area.

The proposed changes are as follows:

The determination of the Court as to the constitutionality of the Bill titled “Colombo Port City Economic Commission” is as follows:

(i) The provisions of Clauses 3(6), 30(3) second proviso, 55(2) and 58(1) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows:

Clause 3(6)

Page 3, Line 33- Delete the words “provide such concurrence” and substitute therefore the words “communicate its decision”

Existing Clause 3(6)

“The relevant Regulatory Authority from whom such concurrence is being sought by the Commission, shall as soon as practicable in the circumstances, as a matter of priority, provide such concurrence to the Commission.” 

Clause 30(3) second proviso

Page 30, Line 15 – – Delete the words “render such concurrence” and substitute therefore the words “communicate its decision” 

Existing Clause 30 (3) second proviso

“Provided further, the relevant Regulatory Authority from whom such concurrence is being sought by the Commission, shall as soon as practicable in the circumstances, as a matter of priority, render such concurrence to the Commission,” 

Clause 55(2) 

Page 49, Lines 16 and 17- Delete the words “provide such concurrence” and substitute therefore the words “communicate its decision” 

Existing Clause 55(2)-

“The Condominium Management Authority, shall as a matter of priority in the circumstances, provide such concurrence to the Commission.”

Clause 58(1) 

Page 52, Lines 9 and 10 – Delete the words “render such concurrence” and substitute therefore the words “communicate its decision”

Existing Clause 58(1)-

“Where the concurrence of the Securities and Exchange Commission is sought by the Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission shall as soon as practicable in the circumstances, as a matter of priority, render such concurrence to the Commission.”

 

(ii) the provisions of Clauses 3(5) proviso, 3(7), 6(1)(b), 30(3) first proviso, 71(1) and 74 [interpretation “Regulatory Authority”] of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 12(1) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution. 

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows: 

Clause 3(5) proviso

Page 3, Line 27- Add the words “by the Commission” after the word “implementation” 

Existing Clause 3(5)- 

“The Commission shall, in the exercise, performance and discharge of its powers, duties and functions, where so required by the respective written laws applicable to any Regulatory Authority, obtain the concurrence of the relevant Regulatory Authority in respect of the subjects vested in or assigned to, such Regulatory Authority and to the extent specifically provided for in this Act: Provided that, the concurrence of the relevant Regulatory Authority sought shall be limited to the implementation, within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, of the respective written laws applicable to such Regulatory Authority.”

Clause 6(1)(b)

Page 6, Line 27- Delete the word “overall” Page 6, Line 32- Delete the words “as the Commission considers necessary” 

Existing Clause 6(1)(b)-

 “to facilitate and exercise overall regulatory supervision and control over all investments and businesses in and from the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, in terms of this Act, with the concurrence, of the relevant Regulatory Authority, as the Commission considers necessary: Provided that, the concurrence of the relevant Regulatory Authority sought shall be limited to the implementation, within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, of the respective written laws applicable to such authority;”

 Clause 30(3) first proviso 

Page 30, Line 9- Add the words “by the Commission” after the word “implementation” 

Existing Clause 30(3)-

“The Commission shall obtain the concurrence of any relevant Regulatory Authority in the process of granting such registration, licence, authorisation or other approval, where so required by the respective written laws applicable to such authority, in respect of the subjects vested in or assigned to, such Authority and to the extent specifically provided for in this Act: Provided that, the concurrence of the relevant Regulatory Authority sought shall be limited to the implementation, within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City,”

Clause 71 (1)

 Page 62, Line 7- Delete the words “as is considered necessary”

Existing Clause 71 (1)-

“The President or in the event that the subject of the Colombo Port City is assigned to a Minister, such Minister may, in consultation with the Commission and any relevant Regulatory Authority as is considered necessary, make regulations in respect of all matters for which regulations are required to be prescribed or authorised by this Act to be made.”

 Clause 74

Page 70, Lines 11 to 16- Delete the words commencing from “to the extent” to “Colombo Port City”

Existing Clause 74 page 70 Lines 1 to 16-

“Regulatory Authority” includes the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the RegistrarGeneral of Companies, the Director-General of the Central Environmental Authority, the Controller of Immigration and Emigration, the DirectorGeneral of Customs, and such other regulatory authority or approving authority, and in whom the powers, duties and functions relating to the respective subjects which are dealt with in this Act are vested in or assigned to, in terms of any applicable written law to the extent provided in this Act. The relevant Regulatory Authority shall be limited to the implementation of the respective written laws applicable to such authorities, within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City;”

Clause 3(7) 

To be shifted after Clause 73 of the Bill and re-numbered as Clause 74. 

The new Clause 74 will now read as follows: 

“74. Nothing in this Act shall, unless otherwise specifically provided for in this Act, be deemed to restrict in any way the powers, duties and functions vested in such Regulatory Authority by any written law in relation to the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City.” 

Clauses 74 and 75 Present Clauses 74 and 75 be re-numbered as Clauses 75 and 76 respectively

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING A REFERENDUM AND SPECIAL MAJORITY

 (iii) The provisions of Clauses 3(4), 6(1)(u), 68(l)(f) and 68(3)(a) are inconsistent with Article 76 read with Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.”

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows: 

Clause 3(4) 

Page 3, Line I4 – Delete the word “for” and substitute therefore the words “to facilitate” Page 3, Lines I6 and I7- Delete the words “and Development Control Regulations”

Existing Clause 3(4)-

“The Commission shall be responsible for preparing, developing, amending, updating, publishing and enforcing all Community Rules and Development Control Regulations applicable within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City.”

Clause 6(1)(u) 

Page I0, Lines I4 to I5 – Insert the words “enforce the” before the words “Development Control Regulations”

Existing Clause 6(1)(u)-

 “to prepare, develop, amend, update, publish and enforce all Community Rules and Development Control Regulations as may be prescribed for applicability within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City;”

Clause 68 (1)(f)

 Page 60, Lines I to 3 – Delete in its entirety 

Existing Clause 68 (1)(f)-

“contravenes or fails to comply with any rule, code, direction or guideline made or issued in terms of this Act,

Clause 68(3)(a) 

Page 60, Line 25- Delete the words “rule, direction, order or requirement issued or imposed”

Existing Clause 68(3)(a)-

 “Notwithstanding the provisions contained in any other written law, any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act or any regulation, rule, direction, order or requirement issued or imposed thereunder commits an offence under this Act and shall be liable on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate to a fine of not less than rupees five hundred thousand and not more than rupees one million or to imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and not exceeding one year, or to both such fine and imprisonment”

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING A REFERENDUM AND SPECIAL MAJORITY

(iv) The provisions of Clause 52(3) read with Clauses 52(5) and 71(2)(p) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 148 of the Constitution read with Articles 3, 4 and 76 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.”

 However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows: 

Clause 52(3) 

Page 44, Line 20- Add the words “in accordance with the Regulations made under this Act … ” after the words “granted thereto ” 

Existing Clause 52(3)-

“Upon a business being so identified as a Business of Strategic Importance, exemptions or incentives as provided in this Part may be granted thereto, in so far as it relates to its operations in and from the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City. In the case of tax-related exemptions, such exemptions may be granted, either in full or part, and from all or any of the enactments set out in Schedule II hereto.”

Clause 52(5) 

Page 44, Lines 29 to 3I -Delete in its entirety and replace with the following: 

“(5) Regulations may be made prescribing guidelines on the grant of exemptions or incentives, as provided for in this Part of this Act.”

Existing Clause 52(5)-

Regulations may be made prescribing any further guidelines as may be necessary on the grant of exemptions or incentives, as provided for in this Part of this Act”

Clause 71 (2)(p)

Page 65, Line I -delete the words “any further” 

Existing Clause 71 (2)(p)-

“specifying for the purposes of section 52, any further guidelines on the grant of exemptions or incentives to a Business of Strategic Importance;”

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING A SPECIAL MAJORITY

(v) The provisions of Clauses 30(1 ), 33(1 ), 40(2) and 71 (2)(1) of the Bill are inconsistent with Article 14(1)(h) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows: 

Clause 30(1) 

Page 29, Line 24- Delete the words “or to visit”. 

Existing Clause 30(1)-

“Subject to Part VII, Part VIII and section 33 of this Act, the Commission shall be the Single Window Investment Facilitator responsible for the consideration and determination, in an expeditious and coordinated manner, whether to accept or reject for good reason, any application made to the Commission for a registration, licence, authorisation or other approval as may be necessary, to engage in any business in, to invest in, to reside in, to be employed in, or to visit, the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port city.”

Clause 33(1)

Page 31, Lines 32 and 33- Delete the words “or to visit” 

Existing Clause 33(1)-

“The Commission, as Single Window Investment Facilitator shall accept an application for and facilitate the processing of, any visa, entry permit or work permit, and other approvals as may be required by an authorised person, any consultant of, or any person specially authorised by an authorised person or an employee of an authorised person, and a person who intends to engage in business, to invest in, to reside in, to be employed in, or to visit the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, as may be necessary.”

Clause 40(2) 

Page 35, Line 37- Delete the words “when leaving” and substitute therefore the words “to be taken out of’ 

Existing Clause 40(2)-

“Any levy as may be required to be paid by a citizen of Sri Lanka or a resident on goods purchased at retail facilities as set out in subsection (1), when leaving the Area of Authority of Colombo Port City, shall be as prescribed.”

Clause 71 (2) (l)

Page 64, Lines 11 and 12- Delete the words “at the time of leaving the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City”

Existing Clause 71 (2) (l)-

“specifying for the purposes of section 40, any levy as may be required to be paid by a citizen of Sri Lanka or a resident on goods purchased at retail facilities within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City at the time of leaving the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, and the procedure applicable to the conversion of payments made by a citizen of Sri Lanka or resident when using retail facilities or services at restaurants, cinemas, entertainment facilities, shopping facilities, or parking facilities, within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, into any other designated foreign currency;”

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING A REFERENDUM AND SPECIAL MAJORITY

(vi) The provisions of Clause 53(2)(b) read with Clause 53(3)(b) of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 76 of the Constitution read with Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution and approved by the People at a Referendum by virtue of the provisions of Article 83.”

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows: 

Clause 53(2)(b) 

Page 45, Line 20- Delete the words “the specific enactments from those listed in” and substitute, therefore, the words “the specific exemptions from those enactments listed in”  Page 45, Line 22- Delete the words “exempted from being”

Existing Clause 53(2) and 53(2)(b)-

(2)The President or in the event that the subject of the Colombo Port City is assigned to a Minister, such Minister, may, having considered such recommendations, and having

regard to the national interest or in the interest of the advancement of the national economy, in consultation with the Minister, assigned the subject of Finance, take such steps as are necessary to inform the Cabinet of Ministers, of –

(2)(b)the specific enactments from those listed in Schedule II to this Act, that are proposed to be exempted from being applicable to such Business of Strategic Importance and any other incentives;

Clause 53(3)(b) 

Page 46, Line 10- Delete the words “the specific enactments from those listed in” and substitute therefor the words “the specific exemptions from those enactments listed in” Page 46, Line II- 

Delete the words “exempted from being” 

Existing Clause 53(3) and 53(3)(b)-

(3)Within two weeks from the date on which the Cabinet of Ministers approves the designation of a business as a Business of Strategic Importance and the granting of the exemptions or incentives so approved, the President or in the event that the subject of the Colombo Port City is assigned to a Minister, such Minister shall, by Order published in the Gazette, specify – 

(3)(b)the specific enactments from those listed in Schedule II to this Act, that are exempted from being applicable to such Business of Strategic Importance and any other incentives granted;”

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING SPECIAL MAJORITY

(vii) The provisions of Clauses 60(c) and Clause 60(f) of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 148 of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.”

However, the said inconsistencies will cease if the clauses are amended as follows:

Clause 60(c)

Page 53, line 14- delete the word “taxes” and substitute therefor the word “rates” 

Existing Clause 60 and 60(c)-

The Estate Manager shall act under the direction and supervision of the Commission and exercise, perform and discharge the following powers, duties and functions,

(c)to facilitate the collection of area related taxes and levies imposed by the Commission within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, as authorised by this Act, and collect fees and charges for services provided within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, including management fees, utility charges, vehicle parking charges, user fees and such other fees or charges from authorised persons, employees of authorised persons, residents, occupiers and visitors within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City;”

Clause 60(f)

 Page 54, line 2 -delete the word “taxes” and substitute therefor the word “rates” 

Existing Clause 60(f)-

“to collect on behalf of the Commission, the local rates, taxes, levies and such other charges imposed by the Commission and applicable within the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City, and credit the total of the sum so collected to a bank account as directed by the Commission;”

 

CLAUSES REQUIRING A SPECIAL MAJORITY

(viii) The provisions of Clause 37 of the Bill is inconsistent with Article 12(1) and 14(1)(g) of the Constitution and could be validly passed only with the special majority provided for in Article 84(2) of the Constitution.

 “However, the said inconsistency will cease if a new sub-clause is added to Clause 37 of the Bill restraining such authorised person making use of any exemptions or incentives granted under this Bill when conducting business outside the Area of Authority of the Colombo Port City to the detriment of similar businesses conducted outside such Area of Authority but within the territory of Sri Lanka.

We have examined the rest of the clauses of the Bill and determine that they are not inconsistent with the Constitution.” 

(Colombo/May18/2021)

 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka teachers struggle to abide by saree ‘law’

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s school teachers are struggling to continue the service with the ongoing high inflation destroying their salaries and with on ongoing battle to wear more affordable clothing than the traditional saree while.

With the country is going through its worst currency crisis in the history of its central bank, teachers say the rapid inflation in the country has forced them to go with more affordable clothing than the traditional attire of saree.

Price Shock

“Wearing sarees are a big cost, you need to iron and we have electricity tariffs, textile industry is collapsing and in turn prices are increasing” AM Chandani, an Advanced Level teacher for Mathematics told EconomyNext.

The traditional saree, is considered as the appropriate attire for all female teachers in the country, even though it has not been officially declared under any law. Students wear frocks.

Teachers says while sarees do bring a level of respect and formality, they don’t determine productivity and the quality to education.

“Quality of education is measured through the syllabus and depends on the skills of the educator, but not on what the teacher is wearing, why is education determined by a saree?” Chandani says.

“Saree prices have risen by nearly 50 percent, electricity prices had risen by 75 percent, transportation costs are also increasing and on top of that food inflation is also present in Sri Lanka. How do you expect one to save in a condition like this?”

Pontificating Ministers

At least two ministers wearing Western jacket and tie have pontificated on teachers’ dress.

“The minister for education and other ministers are busy making proclamations on what teachers should wear to school,” Sujata Gamage & Tara de Mel Co-coordinators, Education Forum Sri Lanka said in a statement.

“There is no indication that they have consulted the main stakeholders in this case, the teachers.

There is already a guideline on attire for teachers in Section 5.1.b of Circular 2012/3 on “Code of Ethics and General Rules on the Ethical Conduct of Teachers”. Specifically, teachers are required to:

“Dress in culturally appropriate, clean, smart, and well-tailored clothing, maintaining decency and modesty, at all times.”

“Insisting that the saree is the only appropriate attire, especially at this time when the teachers are struggling to provide for their families, get to work on time, and teach kids who are very likely to come undernourished or hungry, would be inconsiderate.”

“In addition, it would be a violation of their fundamental rights and a violation of the Constitution where the transfer and disciplinary control of all educational personnel is vested with the provinces.”

Sri Lankan teachers’ salaries were increase in January 2022, after the teachers went on a continuous protest, where an allowance of 5,000 rupees was approved by the Cabinet.

Cost of Working

The electricity tariff was increased last August in order to mitigate the continuous losses made by the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board after the rupee collapse from 200 to 360 to the US dollar after macro-economists printed money to target an output gap.

Fuel, taxi and bus fares and food prices also went up with economists printing money.

Sr Lanka’s Ceylon Teachers Union (Check the exact name) said, on average, teachers get paid from 50,000 to 80,000 a month and, the union plans to go into discussions about the education system, rising cost of education as well as the salary offered to teachers.

“Teacher’s salaries are disappearing because the cost of living has risen… and the cost of working is also increasing such as buying of sarees and transport, this will cause an explosion in the education sector” Joseph Stalin, the teachers Union secretary told EconomyNext.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha told parliament on December 01, that relief would be aided to teachers that are unable to afford sarees after media reports showed that teachers found it financially difficult. 

“Even if the government doesn’t approve allocations, I will make sure that aid is being provided to teachers finding it difficult to afford school attire,” Premajayantha said. (Colombo/Dec02/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka shares ends five week high on easing rate expectations

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares gained for the sixth session on Friday closing on positive sentiments due to expectations of easing market interest rates and generated the highest turnover in two months, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) closed 0.61 percent or 65.94 points higher at 8,769.73, the highest index gain since October 27.

The market witnessed a turnover of 4 billion rupees, higher than this year’s daily average turnover of 3 billion rupees. This is the highest turnover generated since September 27.

The market saw a foreign inflow of 1 billion rupees, the highest inflow since September 27. The total net foreign inflow stood at 20.2 billion rupees so far for this year.

“Most of the treasury counters gained today with the speculation for interest rates to ease with the inflation therefore treasury shares gained,” a market analyst said.

Analysts said Lanka IOC gained with the government keeping the fuel prices unchanged while global prices fell.

Former Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy said in a forum on Monday that the government is in discussions with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank to get loans of 1.9 billion US dollars after a reform program with the International Monetary Fund is approved.

A policy loan now being discussed with the World Bank may bring around 700 million US dollars, Coomaraswamy told a business forum organized by CT CLSA Securities, a Colombo-based brokerage.

The Asian Development Bank may also give around 1.2 billion US dollars most of which will be budget support, he said.

In the last few sessions market gained after the Central bank governor said market rates should eventually ease despite the fears of a domestic debt restructuring as inflation falls, increased liquidity in dollar markets, and the inter-bank liquidity improves.

In the past sessions, the index continued to fall on the speculation of a local debt restructuring although no proper decision has been taken so far.

The more liquid index S&P SL20 closed 1.27 percent or 34.86 points higher at 2,774.60.

So far in December ASPI gained 1.3 percent.

The ASPI gained 0.5 percent in November after losing 13.4 percent in October.

It has lost 28.2 percent year-to-date after being one of the world’s best stock markets with an 80 percent return last year when large volumes of money were printed.

Sampath Bank pushed the index up to close at 10.8 percent to 39.9 rupees.

Other top gainers were Lanka IOC gained 6.2 percent to close at 206.8 rupees and Commercial Bank gained 1.8 percent to close at 51 rupees. (Colombo/Dec02/2022)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka State Tourism Minister backs night life with with 24*7 operation of wine stores

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage wants the island nation’s wine stores to opened all the time if the country wants to boost tourism.

Gamage has been vocal on opening up night time life to attract more tourists and boost foreign exchange revenue for the country to move out of the crisis.

“When tourists come, if all they have to do is roam around and go to sleep at 10 pm every night in front of their hotel room TV, then we will not be able to earn dollars from them,” Gamage told the parliament during the Committee Stage debate of Tourism Ministry.

“The issue with our country is, there is no place to go after 10 pm. This is a paradise. I do not know whether anyone knows the meaning of a paradise.”

“We have to keep this place open 24/7. I have spoken it about many time. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need. Because all the places are close. We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries. People must have to have entertainment.”

Gamage’s proposals for night life have been frowned at by some religious leaders citing that the move is against Sri Lanka’s rich and ancient culture.

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually is a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time.”

“We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.”

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places t spend their money.” (Colombo/Dec02/2022)

Continue Reading