Comments /1430 Views / Friday, 19 May 2017 00:08
Niranjan de S. Deva Aditya, the European Parliament Member and Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister, congratulated Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sri Lanka being granted GSP+ status by the EU Council and the European Parliament yesterday.
“Let’s make no mistake about this,” Aditya said in a statement. “The GSP plus status is given to friendly countries who believe in the values, norms and legal process that the EU believes in.”
“In giving this status to Sri Lanka only one man mattered, the Prime Minister whose word was accepted by the EU under the stewardship of President Sirisena,” Aditya’s statement added.
It is because of Ranil Wickremesinghe, it is because of his reputation and probity, it is because of his assurances, his honesty and his promise that the EU accepted that Sri Lanka will follow the same norms and values which underpin the EU, now the biggest economy in the world, he stated.
Regaining GSP Plus status was no easy task. Sri Lanka also owes a debt of gratitude to Rodney Perera, the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the EU. Understaffed, underfunded and undermanned, he valiantly accepted the challenge of persuading 700 plus MEPs to accept Sri Lanka’s promise and the Prime Minister’s word.
“I am proud to have been associated with this heroic effort which will generate 100,000 new jobs and 500,000 associated jobs bringing export earnings up by over $ 2 billion per year to the Sri Lankan economy if the business community and investors grasp the challenge and set up to fulfil their part in creating wealth for the masses,” Aditya said.
The EU demanded that the Sri Lankan Government show “prompt” and “concrete progress” in improving human rights and addressing areas of concern such as torture, violence against women, corruption, on human rights and labour rights and environmental protection
During discussions lasting 18 months between the EU delegation and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Trade and Investment Minister Malik Samarawickrema, the Sri Lankan Government confirmed its commitment to move forward on reforms in sectors identified by the EU.
“Both sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights domestically and globally and to collaborate on the effective implementation of international human rights instruments,” the statement said.
The EU, while recognising the progress made in preventing enforced disappearances, improving rights of people with disabilities and ensuring the right to information, also urged Sri Lanka to do more to combat torture and violence against women and highlighted the need to combat corruption.
Detailed discussions on constitutional-making, replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act and amending the Criminal Procedure Act to align them with international standards also took place between both parties on freedom of expression and media, strengthening civil society, advancing rights of women and children, respecting non-discrimination on any grounds, addressing the rights of minorities, return of lands in the North and East, labour rights and implementing the treaty obligations and ensuring the rule of law.
“This is a new dawn for Sri Lanka on her road to greater prosperity,” Aditya said.
“Now the challenge is to use this opportunity to access the largest market in the world which the EU is, without barriers experienced by our neighbours and promote investors from the whole of Asia to use Sri Lanka and her skilled and educated labour to export to Europe. We need to launch a massive inward investment program that brings in billions of dollars of Foreign Direct Investment which will increase our manufacturing, agricultural, horticultural and service exports to Europe.”
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