- Charges Podujana Peramuna allegations an attempt to spread terror
- Discussions on MCC Compact Agreement held under 2005 Rajapaksa Government
- Not a challenge to sovereignty of State
- Agreement to be gazetted
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera has challenged Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa to disclose how the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact Agreement harms the country, calling the allegation an attempt to create fear in the country.
“With the upcoming Presidential Election, I challenge the leaders of the Podujana Peramuna, including the Opposition Leader, to disclose how the MCC Compact Agreement is harmful to this country or its citizens,” Samaraweera said.
The Minister added that this wasn’t the first time the Opposition had made an attempt to create a fear of the United States of America in the country, mentioning rumours on the sale of Sigiriya, Sinharaja and Galle Fort to the US during the previous Presidential Election in 2015.
In addition to this, Samaraweera mentioned the rumours spread on social media regarding Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s opposition to the agreement, which have since been addressed by the Archbishop’s House.
“Misusing religious institutions to twist facts for political gains is the level Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa have stooped to,” Samaraweera said, adding, “By spreading such rumours and deceiving the citizens of the country, the Opposition hopes to ensure the victory of their candidate.”
Discussions regarding the $ 480 MCC Grant first began in 2002 and the Rajapaksa regime, which came to power in 2005, showed great interest in acquiring the grant, Samaraweera said in a statement.
He went on to say that he “participated in the discussion on the $480 MCC Grant as the country’s Foreign Minister on then President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s request”. These discussions failed due to the allegations of corruption, oppression, and human rights violations aimed at the then Government both locally and internationally, Samaraweera added.
“Podujana Peramuna Parliamentarians like Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila have alleged that the MCC Compact Agreement challenges the sovereignty of the country,” Samaraweera said.
“Proving that he has given the responsibility of creating terror to this parliamentary duo that always lies, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has limited his allegations to a request that the agreement is presented before Parliament prior to being implemented,” the Minister went on to say.
In the statement issued by the Finance Ministry on 1 November, Samaraweera explained the benefits of the deal, saying that it would address issues related to transportation and land administration that would have a huge impact on Sri Lanka’s economy and would affect seven million and five million people respectively.
While the agreement will in no way challenge the sovereignty of the country, a clause in the Agreement states that it will also only be legitimised via a Parliamentary Bill. Added to this, once gazetted, legal action can be taken by any parties affected by the Bill.