Govt. slammed on ad hoc land allocation to projects
UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne yesterday criticised the Government on haphazard land acquisition and pointed out the present system leaves massive loopholes for mismanagement and corruption as it does not require parliamentary approval.
The outspoken MP told Parliament during a debate on the acquisition of land for 17 projects, which are mainly related to the construction of roads and highways, that the lack of Parliamentary approval for land allocation for massive projects leaves the country’s economy open to exploitation from opaque deals. He specifically highlighted the proposed Port City, which is expected to kick off later this year.
“The Government has embarked on implementing unsolicited proposals by Chinese Communications Construction Company Ltd. Unsolicited proposals will cost the taxpayer much higher than projects which are awarded on a competitive basis.”
“Now it is widely believed that the cost of projects may be 50-100% more than it. Even though the initial expenditure of US $ 1.4 billion is projected as direct foreign investment, it is not. Most of it is a loan from the Chinese Exim Bank which will be based on a guarantee given by the Government of Sri Lanka. The ultimate risk lies not with the investor but with the Government of Sri Lanka. The downside is ours while the unlimited upside will be to CCCC and the other partners. “
Wickramaratne alleged that unsolicited proposals are entertained “because the payouts in bribes are included in the price. Road projects, bridges, power stations, ports, airports, and now port cities are being awarded to foreigners and local cronies of politicians without proper process or competitive pricing.”
Even though Article 148, 149 and 150 of the Constitution requires Parliaments approval for the collection of taxes and expenditure Wickramaratne criticised the “all-powerful and unique Presidential System” that he insisted allows the “President to de alienate land and sell it to anyone whether local or foreigners”.
Quoting from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the MP pointed out countries are given sovereignty over their territorial sea up to 12 nautical miles. These sovereign rights also extend to 200 nautical miles as an Exclusive Economic Zone and therefore, in his view, allocation of such space should come under Parliament.
- Says proposed Colombo Port City places risk on Govt. not Chinese investor, alleges corruption as reason for deals