SRI LANKAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CHINA-BACKED COLOMBO PORT CITY BILL
A controversial Bill on laws governing the China-backed Colombo Port city was passed by the Sri Lankan parliament despite heavy opposition and petitions against the bill. A dozen petitions were filed before the Supreme Court challenging the Bill stating by political opposition and civil society groups stating that it “directly affected” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. Following these petitions, the Supreme Court of the country suggested certain amendments to the bill, which were accepted and acknowledged by the government. It pre-empted the requirement for a two-thirds majority or a referendum for passage of certain clauses, as per the Supreme Court’s determination.
The government passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill stating that the Chinese-backed project would bring in investment and boost the island nation's economy. The bill would attract foreign direct investment up to $15 billion giving the much-needed impetus to the economy and will help in job creation While, the Opposition parties alleged the bill would lead to the creation of a Chinese colony in Sri Lanka.
The $1.4 billion Colombo Port City was inaugurated in 2014, during the Rajapaksa administration's previous term, when Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a visit to the island country. The mega infrastructure project is currently being constructed on reclaimed land alongside Colombo's historic seafront, despite opposition from environmentalists and fishermen.