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Sri Lankan Parliament to debate China-backed Port City Bill next week

ANI | Updated: May 14, 2021 11:08 IST


Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 14 (ANI): The Sri Lankan Parliament is set to discuss the controversial Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill, in the special parliamentary sittings next week.
This comes after a Committee on Parliamentary Business decided to convene the Parliament from May 18 to May 20 in line with the Covid 19 health regulations, Colombo Page reported.
Amid criticism from opposition parties, Sri Lanka has unveiled a contentious draft law for a Colombo Port City Commission which allows for sweeping tax breaks, tax-free salaries and be an offshore financial centre.
The USD 1.4-billion Colombo Port City project is slated to be the single largest private sector development in Sri Lanka. There have been concerns about Beijing seeking to increase its footprint in the country through contentious infrastructure projects.

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court is currently hearing several petitions against a Bill that will give special powers to govern the China-backed port city in Colombo.
Dr Harsha de Silva, an opposition party MP from SJB told Daily Mirror on Tuesday had said that they won't accept the draft law on Port City. "I have three main issues. One, the draft is to create a private company. The commission is actually a privately held corporate body run by five-seven commissioners appointed by the President."
"Two, the regulation is by the Commission. That is a recipe for disaster in today's tough global anti-money laundering environment. If we are to attract top financial names we must have credible regulation," he added. He further objected to the draft, saying that it takes away Parliamentary control over Port City in fiscal policy.
The agency running the Port City would have extensive powers to exempt businesses from taxes of up for decades, reported economynext.
This comes at a time when Sri Lanka's tax revenues have plunged in 2020, raising concerns over debt and the fiscal path, credit downgrades and the ability of the government to provide vital public services to the people, while managing loss-making state enterprises. (ANI)

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