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10 December, 2015 09:25 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka
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The Government will not sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.
“Our Government will never sign the CEPA agreement under any circumstances and that it won’t be signed under another name,” the Prime Minister asserted.
Speaking in Parliament during the Committee Stage Debate of the 2016 Appropriation Bill, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasised that the Government had no intention of signing a CEPA or any related agreement with India.
He said the Government did not agree with the clauses that were included in the CEPA by the previous Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa and that the “harmful” CEPA agreement had completely been removed.

The Prime Minister said that the Government would instead enter into an Economic/Technical pact with India that is favourable to Sri Lanka.
The Premier lashed out at the trade union of State doctors, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), for claiming that the Government was attempting to sign the CEPA with India under a different name. He said the GMOA was spreading lies to fool its own members.
Noting that the GMOA had also claimed that the agreement would provide unemployed Indian professionals an opportunity to work in Sri Lanka and that this would result in Sri Lankans losing job opportunities, the PM condemned the GMOA for misleading the public.
“We condemn the Government Medical Officers’ Association, as a responsible trade organisation, for misleading its members and the public by making such false and baseless statements,” the PM said.
Speaking further, the Prime Minister explained that the agreement would only include clauses involving the economic and technological sectors. He said the plan was to sign such an agreement with India and even with China and Singapore.
He said the new agreement would create employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth in the country and a sustainable solution would be found for unemployment.
However, before signing any agreement, the Government will hold discussions with the relevant trade unions and political party leaders and will seek approval of the Cabinet before finalising any agreement, he said.

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