Port City Bill passed

The Third Reading of the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday with 149 voting in favour of the Bill and 58 voting against it.

The vote was taken after Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC, moved the Bill for a Third Reading and MP Vijitha Herath called for a Division for the Third Reading.

The Second Reading of the Bill was passed in Parliament with a majority of 89 votes. While 148 Members of Parliament voted in favour of the Port City Bill, 59 voted against on the Second Reading.

The debate on the Bill commenced on Wednesday (19) and the Government declared several amendments proposed for the Bill in line with the determination of the Supreme Court on the Bill which was revealed in Parliament on Tuesday.

The vote on the Port City Bill was held following the conclusion of the debate yesterday evening (20). The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), National People’s Power (NPP) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) voted against the Bill, while a number of amendments to the Bill proposed by the SJB were rejected by the Government.

There were 19 petitions filed by several factions including the Sri Lanka Bar Association, the Centre for Policy Alternatives, Transparency International, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the United National Party (UNP), the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and several other civil society groups and individuals.

These petitions were filed claiming that this Bill compromises the territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country. On Tuesday (18), Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena presented the Supreme Court’s determination on the Colombo Port City Bill in Parliament.

The Supreme Court determined that several clauses of the Bill were inconsistent with the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court determined that these clauses could either be amended or passed in Parliament with a special majority and/or a referendum.

The 62-page Supreme Court determination on the Bill, had included details on how these affected clauses could be amended.

The Government later announced that it agrees with all Supreme Court determinations and amendments with regard to the Colombo Port City Bill.

Making a special statement on the first day of the debate, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said the Government expected to bring in an amendment specifying that at least 75 percent of the job opportunities at the Colombo Port City should be reserved for Sri Lankans. Moreover, the majority of the Port City Commission members would be Sri Lankans.

(Daily News)

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