Amendments possible for Port City Bill | Daily News
State Minister Susil Premajayantha clarifies:

Amendments possible for Port City Bill

Claims of separatism dismissed:
Western Province to have jurisdiction:

Education Reforms, Open Universities and Distance Learning Promotion State Minister Susil Premajayantha yesterday asserted that the Colombo Port City will not be a separate entity and will fall under the jurisdiction of the Western Province.

State Minister Premajayantha said that amendments can be done based on the Supreme Court verdict regarding the petitions on the Port City Commission Bill. “The Supreme Court can guide us through the process.

If there should be amendments to the Bill, the Supreme Court will point them out,” he said.

Premajayantha was speaking at a media briefing held at the Government Information Department yesterday. State Minister Premajayantha elaborated that Article 5 of the Constitution clearly states that “the territory of the Republic of Sri Lanka shall consist of 25 Administrative Districts, the names of which are set out in the first schedule”. Accordingly, the Colombo Port City will be a part of the Colombo District. “The 72nd page of the Bill carries further evidence in this regard. The Bill clearly states the boundaries [of Port City] directing towards North, South, East and West,” he added.

“Although the Colombo Port City Bill is exempted from several laws such as the Urban Development Act, the Municipal Council Ordinance, the commercial Mediation Centre of Sri Lanka Act, Town and Country Planning Ordinance etc., it will follow the Sri Lankan Civil and Criminal Law in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka,” the State Minister said.

He said that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are not totally new to the country and the main purpose of this Bill is to attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). “When considering the current situation of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a great chance for us to move forward as a country,” he added.

“The Port City Commission appointed by the President consisting of eminent professionals authorizes the companies or individuals to engage in business in this particular Zone. The Commission decides to whom the licenses pertaining to lands will go and who will be allowed to do business,” the State Minister said. The State Minister also rejected claims that the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill will be creating another “Eelam”. “President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are the two main pillars that took down Eelam. The general public is intelligent enough to weigh the baseless allegations being made by the Opposition.’’

The state Minister also said that the Colombo Port City Economic Commission will have transparency in its financial transactions. “Financial transactions of the Commission will be audited by an internationally recognized audit firm on an annual basis and the reports should be submitted to the President and the Parliament. None of the audit firms will do any act that tarnishes their brand name by foul play, they will stick to their norms and transparency is guaranteed,” he added. Citing from the Bill, he added: “The funds of the Commission shall be audited annually by qualified auditors in terms of article 154 of the Constitution.”

He pointed out that the Bill should be approved by Parliament and if rejected, it would not come into effect. “The Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill is only a draft. This will be included in the Order Book and debated in Parliament. There is plenty of room to have Amendments.”

He also refuted reports that Colombo Port City will become a Chinese Colony. “The Port City project will generate employment opportunities for 80,000-130,000 persons, which will lead to a massive development in the country. An International Arbitration Centre will also be established which can also have myriad of benefits,” he explained.