March 30, 2020
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    Govt. now reviewing SL-Singapore FTA - AG

    February 07, 2020

    The Attorney General yesterday informed the Supreme Court that a committee appointed by the Government is currently in the process of reviewing and re-visiting the context of the Sri Lanka–Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed by the previous government. Senior State Counsel Nirmalan Wigneswaran appearing for the Attorney General informed the Supreme Court that the agreement itself grants provisions to review and re-visit the agreement with Singaporean counterpart.

    Seven Fundamental Rights petitions which were filed seeking an interim relief staying or suspending the implementation of the Sri Lanka–Singapore Free Trade Agreement signed on January 23, 2018 were yesterday fixed for July 13 by the Supreme Court.

    When the petitions came up before three-judge-bench comprising Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda, Justice L.T.B. Dehideniya and Justice Preethi Padman Surasena, the court was informed that the committee appointed to look into the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is yet to submit its report.

    These petitions had been filed by the Secretary of Mawbima Lanka Padanama, Kapila Gamage, the Government Medical Officers Association and five others naming former Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, Secretary to the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Chandanie Wijayawardhana and, the former Cabinet of Ministers as respondents.

    In his petition, Attorney-at-Law Kapila Gamage alleged that the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) was neither considered nor approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and therefore, has no force or effect in law. He further alleged that the SLSFTA was not disclosed to the public, in spite of several requests made by the interested parties, including professional activists.

    The Petitioner submitted that the State would be placed in danger of a weakened authority to maintain control over the economy and security and, thereby, to protect the economic and other rights of the domestic individuals, entities and industries when liberalizing trading and access to domestic market though Free Trade Agreements with States having strong economies and legal frameworks. The Petitioner states that the SLSFTA shall have direct and adverse impact on the public finance of Sri Lanka and, therefore, requires the prior sanction and approval of the Parliament pertaining to the scope and mandate of negotiations, signing and implementation of the SLSFTA. However, in the absence of such approval the SLSFTA is lacking in constitutional mandate and therefore illegal and null and void.

    The Petitioner maintained that the executive actions relating to the commencement of negotiations, signing and implementation of SLSFTA shall violate Articles 148 and 157 of the Constitution and also amounting to alienation of the Legislative powers of the Parliament.

    President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardane with Counsel Rukshan Senadheera and Lakmini Warusevitane appeared for the GMOA. Counsel Kapila Gamage appeared for the Mawbima Lanka Padanama.

    Senior State Counsel Nirmalan Wigneshwaran appeared for the Attorney General.



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