Mahendran played key role in singing FTA: Dayasiri

SLFP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara alleged today that former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, who was in Singapore, had played the key role in signing the Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and Singapore.

"Mr. Mahendran has been assigned the duties to function as the Sri
Lankan representative in Singapore in matters regarding the SL-Singapore FTA while he was wanted by the courts over the Central Bank Bond scam," he said.

He told parliament that even though the Singapore-Sri Lanka FTA was approved by the Cabinet, it was not discussed at length as the subject minister Malik Samarawickrama wanted it approved in a hurry.

He said the Cabinet approval was granted to it on condition that the Attorney General's recommendations should be included in it, adverse effects on local industries and services should be addressed and to give an opportunity to the Cabinet to discuss the adverse effect of the FTA and asked if the conditions had been followed.

He said no action had been taken to ensure the security of the local professionals, technicians and skilled and unskilled labour in the agreement.

Mr. Jayasekara said even though the minister claimed that the shortcomings could be discussed, there was no room in the agreement for any amendments as it was indefinite.

"There is not even an exit clause in the agreement. We have to go to Singapore for arbitration," he said.

He said Sri Lanka did not have a national policy on Free Trade Agreements and requested the minister to appoint a committee to implement a national policy on Free Trade Agreements and to review the impacts of the prevailing agreements. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)