Kiriella: Rule of law should be restored for investors to come



By Akitha Perera

Investors will not come to a country that does not adhere to the rule of law, Chief Opposition whip Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday, addressing the media in Colombo.The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP also warned that Sri Lanka might lose concessions from foreign donors and multilateral bodies due to the government’s attempts at suppressing the people.

“The government representatives are travelling from one country to another asking for aid. No one has offered significant amounts of aid so far. The President has been in power for a year now, and we have only received donations aimed at alleviating the suffering of people, like medical donations. The IMF has given us around 300 million dollars, and India has provided four billion dollars in credit. China has given us medical aid and dry rations. This is it,” he said.

Kirielle also alleged that the government has not engaged constructively with China. There is also doubt whether the Paris Club would move on its own without Chinese guarantees of debt restructuring.

“We need to work with China to work out a debt restructuring deal. However, even if we come to a debt restructuring agreement with our donors, it is unlikely that foreign investors will come without stability and adherence to the rule of law,” he said.

The SJB MP said the government might be able to find buyers for profit-making state assets and state monopolies.

“It is a stretch to call these people investors. Someone buying an already profit-making enterprise is not an investor. An investor is someone who would pump money into Sri Lanka and build things in the country. An investor is someone who will create jobs here and transfer technology and knowledge. We have had very little of these in recent years,” he said.

Kirielle added that Sri Lanka risks losing the GSP plus concessions due to the breakdown of the rule of law.

“What has the government done to convince the EU that we are adhering to internationally accepted practices? The government has to establish the rule of law first before it tries to push unpopular reforms on the people,” he said.