- Insists proposed legislation will resolve inheritance issues and more productive use of land
The United National Party (UNP) yesterday said the Land Grants (Special Provisions) Bill will not create an opportunity for foreigners to buy land in Sri Lanka but will instead allow many poor families to utilise their land more productively.
Speaking at Temple Trees, UNP MP Thushara Indunil said the Government will not present any bill that will bring negative impact on the country and create an opportunity for foreign nationals to take over local land.
The Bill was scheduled to be debated in Parliament on Friday. However, during a special party leaders meeting held in Parliament on Monday it was decided to delay the debate as several petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court against the proposed legislation.
Indunil said the Bill would cover the entire country. He insisted it was beneficial as numerous people have been residing in lands with only a permit and no deed to legally claim ownership. Since they cannot prove ownership they are often hindered from using the land productively, including using the land as collateral.
“There are instances when these lands cannot even be given to the children of these families. This legislation will allow them to obtain loans from banks and fulfil other requirements to develop the lands, which can be used more productively,” he said.
He noted under the current regulation some lands could only be given to the elder child, which had been one of the biggest issue pertaining to land regulation in Sri Lanka. “The elder child of some families live in Colombo or in a different place. The younger child is the one actually taking care of the parents and farming the land but unfortunately that child does not have any right to that land. This is a big shortcoming in the system.”
The parliamentarians denied Opposition claims that it will allow foreigners to purchase land in Sri Lanka. Indunil also argued the lands in rural areas in the North Central Province, for example, will not be of interest to foreign nationals.
“The Opposition is just spreading baseless accusations. Why would a country like the US want a small plot of land in the North Central Province? Similar claims were made when former Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake took measures to develop the agriculture sector. These were all later proven wrong. Therefore we will not stop our development projects just because the Opposition makes accusations,” he said.