Apr 16, Colombo: State Minister of Finance Ajith Nivard Cabraal defending against the criticism that the Colombo Port City would become a colony of China through the proposed Port City Economic Commission Bill said Act would be a turning point for the country’s economy.
Addressing a media briefing held in Colombo today, State Minister Cabraal said the bill proposes to facilitate investment in the port city.
State Minister said the law of the country also applies to Colombo Port City and all activities in the Colombo Port City are subjected to the laws of the country.
He said the public should not be concerned with regard to the jurisdiction as all investors will come under the purview of the Port City Economic Commission Act.
The Minister noted that there is nothing of any concern with regard to the jurisdiction of this country. “Jurisdiction is exercised through the Port Commission law. Not that they are released from all jurisdiction, they are having to comply the laws of the country through the Port Commission Act, not any other Act.”
He said the proposed bill would make investing in the Port City more convenient and attractive for the investors and the bill has been presented in Parliament in order to attract more investors.
The State Minister said the businessmen operating within the Port City would be exempt of usual tax laws of the country such as Inland Revenue Act, Value Added Tax Act, Finance Act, Excise Provisions, and Debit Tax Act and businesses operating within the area would be tax exempt.
The Bill, titled the ‘Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act’, provides legal framework for setting up of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within the Colombo Port City and proposes the establishment of a Commission empowered to grant registrations, licenses, authorizations, and other approvals to carry on businesses and other activities in the Special Economic Zone.
Several political parties, civil organizations and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka have challenged the proposed bill in Supreme Court pointing out that the Port City Commission to be established will be empowered under the Act to the detriment of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
State Minister Cabraal responding to Parliamentarian Wijedasa Rajapaksa’s statement that the port city would become a Chinese colony through this bill, stressed that nowhere in the bill, did the government present a clause to imply that the Port City would be colonized by China.
He pointed out that the Port City will fall under certain laws including the Municipal Council Act, Commercial Mediation Centre, Town and Country Planning Ordinance. “Therefore, it will not threaten the country’s sovereignty,” he said.