Dec 09, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government will not sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday.
"Our government will never sign the CEPA agreement under any circumstance, and that it won’t be signed under another name," the Prime Minister asserted.
Speaking in Parliament during the Committee Stage Debate of the 2016 Appropriation Bill Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized that the government has no intention of signing a CEPA or any related agreement with India.
He said the government does not agree with the clauses that were included in the CEPA by the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the "harmful" CEPA agreement has completely been removed.
The Prime Minister said instead, the government will enter into an Economic/Technical pact with India that is favorable to Sri Lanka.
The Premier lashed out at the trade union of state doctors, Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), for claiming that the government is attempting to sign the CEPA with India under a different name. He said the GMOA is spreading lies to fool their own members.
Noting that the GMOA has also claimed that the agreement would provide unemployed Indian professionals with an opportunity to work in Sri Lanka and that this would result in Sri Lankans losing job opportunities, the PM condemned the GMOA for misleading the public.
"We condemn the Government Medical Officers' Association, as a responsible trade organization, for misleading its members and the public by making such false and baseless statements," the PM said.
Speaking further, the Prime Minister explained that the agreement will only include clauses involving the economic and technological sectors. He said the plan is to sign such an agreement with India and even with China and Singapore.
He said the new agreement will create employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth in the country and a sustainable solution will be found for unemployment.
However, before signing any agreement, the government will hold discussions with the relevant trade unions and political party leaders. The government will seek the approval of the cabinet before finalizing any agreement, he said.