Colombo adopts Nepal’s approach on US MCC negotiations

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 March 2020, 23:31 GMT]
Unlike Nepal, the SL State is yet to sign the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement with the US. While Nepal is struggling to renegotiate the already signed contract, Colombo is trying to review the approved terms and conditions during the previous regime. SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would make a move in the direction of signing it after the forthcoming parliamentary elections, is the opinion prevailing among the hardline Sinhala nationalists, who are opposed to US-Indian interventions in the island. In the meantime, a committee appointed to review the proposed MCC Compact has submitted a “supplementary report” to SL Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday. The report has proposed “appropriate corrections” and “suitable amendments” before obtaining “concurrence of the citizens” as well as the “approval of the Parliament.”

The Sinhala nationalists, preoccupied with the notions of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of the unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka, are prepared to trade-off international justice and political solution to the national question by negotiating geopolitical access to external powers in the great power competition in the Indo-Pacific. They are not prepared to share the sovereignty with Tamils, but compromise it with foreign powers, commented Tamil political observers in Jaffna.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s regime has already made its move.

The SL State has just indicated the “terms and conditions” to the geopolitical actors by withdrawing its “co-sponsorship” of the UN Human Rights Council.

The SL State became “eligible” for the US grant in December 2016 after the previous regime-change in 2015. The subsequent decision to develop the Compact was made under the stringent procedure for eligibility in December 2017, which was approved in April 2019.

However, extremist Sinhala nationalists, who viewed the MCC and the military-to-military agreements in the pipeline as eroding the “sovereignty” of their SL State, started to oppose the move.

The opposition gained momentum after the Easter attacks.

The cabinet decision, taken at the meeting of the SL Cabinet of Ministers on 27 February 2020, follows:

24. Supplementary Report of the Committee appointed for reviewing the Composite Development Agreement of Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC)

“A review committee headed by Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan was appointed for submitting recommendations to the government on the actions to be taken after studying in relevant to the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) as per a decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers on the 18th December 2019.

“The said Committee has submitted a supplementary report to the Hon. Prime Minister and the report pointed out that there are features that may threaten the national, social and economic welfare of Sri Lanka within certain projects proposed under this programme although the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) proposal is capable of supplying financial resources required for the investments that wipe out the fundamental economic constrains in Sri Lanka suppressed due to lack of capital resources and being debt – ridden nation without increasing the foreign credit bondage.

“The report further pointed out there were clauses and conditions that would affect negatively to the national goals / objectives, sovereignty as well as the national security along with sections and provisions that would be unfavourable for the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the legal framework of the country included in the proposed composite agreement and the agreement of the programme implementation as well as in the draft cooperate statute of the proposed company.

“Therefore, the Committee has pointed out that it is essential to apply appropriate corrections as well as suitable amendments and after that it is suitable to obtain concurrence of the citizens as well as the approval of the Parliament. The Hon. Prime Minister having submitted the supplementary report of the Committee for the information of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Cabinet of Ministers took the particulars along with the fundamental decisions and recommendations into considerations.”

* * *

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat) from New Jersey, a ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was testifying at the hearing of the Committee on MCC on 04 December 2019.

“In Sri Lanka MCC has a $480 million compact pending the approval of the Sri Lankan government. Sri Lanka, however, has just elected a suspected war criminal, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as President. How will this affect the compact,” asked Bob Menendez.

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External Links: Menendez Opening Statement at Hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation



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