10 December, 2019

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Consternation Surrounding The MCC Agreement 

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

Release of the draft MCC agreement by the Ministry of Finance 01/11/2019, followed by an open challenge by Minister Mangala Smaraweera to show if  there are any harmful aspects in the MCC to the country, A fast unto death by a venerable Buddhist monk against it, resulted in the Cabinet postponement of the signing of this agreement until the conclusion of the Presidential election to be held on 16th November 2019. In the meantime based on several petitions filed by many parties in the Supreme Courts, the SC has decided to determine whether a fuller bench should be nominated to hear them. The Petitions inter –alia allege that the compact will lead to a bartering of the sovereignty of the country and claim there is a serious danger of Sri Lanka’s interests being subdued in favour of USA.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera takes a strong position to defend the Agreement and claims that much of the information given by interested parties are false and baseless. According to him “the Project proposal under the MCC is to provide funds to be used for projects based on our prioritization indicated to them by the Government.” In the light of these bewilderments  it is prudent to examine some of the important and salient issues encircling this matter.

Background status

There are many factually incorrect positions which have been highlighted in defense of this agreement. If we trace the chronological history we come across several debatable instances.

1. US President George Bush proposed a concept for a new compact for development of  poor countries with more accountability in March 2002. Accordingly the MCC was established as a bipartisan body in the year 2004. The eligibility of the recipient of assistance was subject to a policy performance to be assessed by US under 17 policy indicators set out by them.

2. Minister MS has stated that in his capacity as the Minister of Foreign Affairs  in the previous Government he was asked by President Mahinda Rajapakse to discuss with US Government to get assistance from the MCC.

3. According to program overview, Annexure 1( of the draft MCC agreement) It is in December 2015 that the Board of Directors selected Sri Lanka to develop a threshold program. During the threshold program an analysis of the constraints was conducted jointly by the MCC Government and the HCID which was completed in November, 2016.

4. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Economic statement in Parliament on 27/10/2016 has no reference to any proposed economic corridor extending from Colombo to Trincomalee or about a pending proposal for US assistance on the lines of theMCC project.

5. In Dec 2016, MCC’s Board of Directors selected Sri Lanka to develop a compact and accordingly government recruited the compact development team and started work from an office established in the PM’s office of Policy Development.

The Govt. of SL and the MCC of United States of America prepared a constraint analysis  in Partnership with Harvard University’s Center for International Development for a compact with MCC. In Nov 2017 government submitted project proposals focusing on the constraints identified.

Two principal constraints were identified.

a) The Traffic congestion in the CMR and the poor inter-regional transport infrastructure.

b) Lack of access to state lands and private lands for investment purposes was identified as a constraint for foreign and domestic investment, affecting growth-manufacturing; agriculture; construction; residential and commercial development; and tourism.

The proposed changes under MCC were intended to improve land governance framework.

Promote land transactions to stimulate investment.

Create a dynamic land market.

According to this sequence of events there is no indication of any intention by a Mahinda Rajapaksa Government to obtain any grants under the MCC for such a project. That creates disbelief about the veracity of Minister Mangala Samaraweera Statement. The question that arises is why should he refer to something that did not happen? 

Certain other positions taken by the Minister in his resolute defense of the MCC are also questionable;

  • “24%of the Sri Lankan exports are to US markets.”

Is this a warning  by Minister Mangala  to the country about  any forthcoming sanctions if the MCC is not signed? 

  • He goes on to affirm that US is a friendly country and they were the first to prescribe the LTTE as a terrorist Organization. Is there anything special about it? 

Considering the severe blow US suffered on 11/9 /2011 due to an attack by the terrorists ,killing 2996 people in one day,  they have to denounce terrorism anywhere else.

All these imaginations point towards one important concern. Why Is the donor country granting such a facility to a recipient country demanding acceptance by force?

Will US go to the extent of crippling our economy by applying sanctions if the decision is reversed by our country due to special reasons affecting us? Mr.Minister  doesn’t it amount to some kind of insult to the US to announce such apprehensions?

Let us examine some of the controversial contents in the compact;e draft agreement}

a) Country receiving MCC funding  is engaged in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States leads to the termination of the Grant and request the Government(recipient)to repay to MCC in US $ the value of the funding within 30days.{article 5, section 5.1 (b) v of the draft agreement}

The interest to national security of US is a very wide term to be interpreted by them!

b) The government agrees that MCC and the United States or any current or former officer or employee of MCC or the US govt.shall be immune from the jurisdiction of all courts and tribunals of Sri Lanka for any claim or loss arising out of activities or omissions {Section 6.7 of t under this compact}

c) The parties understand that; consistent with SL Law ,prior to the govt. sending the letter of acceptance ,this compact is to be submitted and enacted by the parliament of SL.

Emphasis ours. This becomes an act of Parliament?

In the Program review under the background and the sub title consultative process it is stated as follows;

1. In December 2015, a constraint analysis was conducted by the Govt. a constraint analysis was conducted by the Govt. and the MCC with the HCID and this was completed in 2016 November.

2. Lack of access to State Land and Private land for investment purposes was identified as a deterrent to foreign investment. Creating a dynamic market for land is also a priority in the Vision 2025 development plan of the Govt. This policy was announced in September 2017.

It follows that the MCC/HCID economic analysis preceded the 2025 vision plan. Hence the initiation of the Project proposal for the MCC was not based on a national priority identified by the Govt. but developed on the findings of the HCID/MCC analysis.

High lights of the MCC project Proposal;

The  program consists of two projects,a Transport Project and Land Project which is described in detail as follows under the objectives;

a) to increase the relative efficiency and capacity of th e road network and bus system in the Colombo Metropolitan Region(CMR) and to reduce the cost of transport in order to facilitate the flow of passengers and goods between the central region of the country and ports;

b) to increase the availability of information on private land and under- utilized State Land in order to increase the land market activity;

It is noteworthy that in 2016, a report was published by two of our researchers from the University entitled,’Reducing Traffic congestion in Colombo Metropolitan Area through adaptation of Alternative Transporting Methods:Barriers and Long Term Strategies.”

This was a fairly comprehensive approach by our local specialists who addressed the issue in a more domestic background. No attention apparently has been paid to this exercise. It may be that sometimes the HCID would have got the basics for their recommendations from this report at no cost.

Regarding the Lang Policy there certain intriguing points that should be focused on. According to the Draft Agreement the land Policy broadly encompasses the following;

Among the several proposals under this scheme the most significant are:

1. Convert permits and grants in state land to “Absolute Land Grants” which can get registered as freehold land.

2. To support the conversion of state lands to the private domain, creating a marketable and bankable title in the name of the land holder.

3. Government shall allow the use of land as collateral for loans and their free transfer.

4. The Land Special Provisions Act is expected to define the process the government shall use for this conversion of land rights.

5. The MCC funding for this activities is conditional on the enactment of the LSPA with the above facilities (Page 30)

6. MCC believe that the title system would help to stimulate greater land market activities leading to investment and economic growth. MCC funding is conditional upon the enactments of amendments to remove difficulties in moving deeded properties to title system. 

The main focus of the MCC is to promote the Land Market activity more than the development of Land by the present owners or the State. It is a matter that requires serious comprehension in the context of sovereignty and unlimited land ownership by foreigners.

Strangely this focus coincided with the published findings of certain other internationally finaced think tanks operating in our country.

They claimed that ,most of the prime real estate blocks owned by the govt. are presently utilized in a manner that “greatly outweigh their economic value”and they should be brought under the management of”an independent body free of political influence to minimize corruption”. To establish the point stressed by them ,they issued a statement in a sponsored  publication to the effect that Sri Lanka was given a low ranking  for “weak Soverignty anesses in the legal system and property rights”. Some of these foreign experts headed by the HCID,recommended the creation of a PUBLIC ENETERPRISE BOARD ACT on the Tamasek Model of Singapore. This Board as was explained by Minister Kabir Hashim,would be empowered to “sell or dispose of ,turn to account or otherwise deal with any property vested in the Public Enterprise”

 It is also interesting to note that the HCID is co financed by multi million dollar currency speculator George Soros. He also happened to be one of the prospective world class investors supposed to invest in Sri Lanka immediately after the new Good Governance Govt. came into power as announced by the then finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Looking at all these we could see a full nexus of a wide circle operating behind the policy making activities including the projected International Compacts and Grants. In the context the following concerns should be seriously addressed.

  • Is our national sovereignty at stake?
  • Are we subjected to any force by any super power Standing tall in their pursuit for global hegemony.
  • Are we subject to some influence of a country determined  to establish its power across a full spectrum including land, air , maritime, outer space, and cyberspace?
  • Do  the proposed agreements fall in line with the International Laws and UN charters?
  • Are we not becoming a party to the very principles of non- alignment to which we committed ourselves in the past leading to the initiation of certain important UN charters on sovereignty and independence of nations?

May be our pending legal actions will address these issues.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    What about the Chinese land grab? They OWN great swathes of Sri Lanka already!!

    • 2
      2

      Predictably, Mr Rusisiri has joined the cabal of one-dimensional patriots, of which Wimal Weerawansa and Ratana the fallopian tube expert are prominent members. I don’t know what Rusiri said about the Indian 1990 ambulance service four years ago, but what he says today about MCC is so very like the mishmash of paranoia and stupidity that the GMOA and Weerawansa employed then. Go ahead and watch it on YouTube. Sri Lankans have such short memories.

      • 1
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        Old codger

        Rusiripala Tennakoon types,
        Is our national sovereignty at stake?

        Do you think Rusiripala Tennakoon knew what he was typing about? I never understood the idea of “national sovereignty” in respect of this island.

        Can you please get Tennakoon to define and explain what he considered to be ” national sovereignty”?

        • 1
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          MCC’ fake advisor’s economic diagnostics, deep dives and analytics have miss identified the main “binding constraints to growth” in Sri Lanka which is corruption, corruption, corruption – particularly by the US puppet Prime Minister – Bondscam Ranil- that MCC was “advising” with IMF on how to crash the economy and devalue the rupee so MCC and US corporations could get land Cheap in Sri Lanka as USA is broke with a trillion dollar deficit.

          Indeed, MCC has been promoting binding constraints to growth in Sri Lanka by promoting corruption, fake economic analysis and undermining financial and governance institutions ever since the war against the LTTE ended– in order to advance US strategic security interests and land and ocean grabbing in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka needs to get rid of MCC and its fake development experts like Harvard’s Ricardo Hausman who was involved in the Venezuvela coup and has to resign from the Inter-America Development Bank recently.

  • 5
    4

    Thank you Mr Tennekoon, Sir.
    /
    You have systematically demolished this hominoid arguments of a national disgrace.

    • 2
      0

      Ran Banda

      “You have systematically demolished this hominoid arguments of a national disgrace.”

      Run Banda run before the debris hit you on your head.

  • 4
    1

    Mr Rusiripala: National universities and reputed academics were not consulted on this MCC – “growth constraints analysis”. The MCC projects identified are NOT priority projects for poverty reduction in Sri Lanka. Indeed the 2 project on transport and land with energy sector lined up, reflects US business and SECURITY interests to collect DATA and access BIG DATA and land grab for military base servicing facilities and to control and access transport DATA and hence BIG DATA via ATMs and GIS based automated network map. CCTV monitors etc
    ANNEX 1-22-b (1) in the MCC document.
    Sri Lanka urgently needs a NATIONAL DATA Protection Policy as ILO has pointed out.
    One national consultant who worked briefly for MCC pointed out that the main reason for lack of FDI and economic growth in Sri Lanka was Corruption as the Central Bank had been scammed by the Prime Minister and hence honest foreign investors were wary of investing in a place where there was n’t a flat playing field, and what was urgently needed from MCC for economic growth was an anti-corruption project, also to restore confidence in the country’s financial system and attract FDI project. MCC hed honcho rejected this suggestion and claimed that Sri Lanka did not have a corruption problem
    It was also pointed out that investment in Sri Lanka’s marine and fisheries sectors to industrialize fishery given its wealth of marine resources was another area for MCC to consider a project for poverty alleviation as poverty is high among fisheries communities and Sri Lanka has and extensive Exclusive Economic Zone under UNCLOS but most of the fisheries resources are being looted by Distant Water Fishing States (DWFS)- and their industrial fleets in the Indian Ocean, particularly,, France, Spain, and EU whose companies have signed contracts with corrupt SL Fisheries Ministers

    • 3
      0

      Mr. Rusiripala: thank you.
      Why did the Foreign Ministry under Avant Guard Marapona, rush to sign the Singapore Mediation Treaty Convention in August 2019 – this year? i.e. just as the signing of the MCC was being pushed, and the Karanagala Graphite mining scam, on the Colombo-Trincomalee corridor in the works.
      Acres of land and licenses have been given to a company called Ceylon Graphite and Sarcon Developments registered in Curacao a money laundering haven in the Carribbean, to mine Lanka’s high value Graphite which is very valuable now on the global mineral and REE markets.
      Extricating Lanka from the MCC and these other dodgy contracts with the Singapore Mediation Convention hanging over Lanka will be costly, but Managala the Financially illiterate Finance Minister wants to sign the MCC contract first and then debate and analyze it!
      Mangy should be impeached along with Bondscam Ranil for treason.

  • 1
    2

    Predictably, Mr Rusisiri has joined the cabal of one-dimensional patriots, of which Wimal Weerawansa and Ratana the fallopian expert are prominent members. I don’t know what Rusiri said about the Indian 1990 ambulance service four years ago, but what he says today about MCC is so very like the mishmash of paranoia and stupidity that the GMOA and Weerawansa employed then. Go ahead and watch it on YouTube. Sri Lankans have such short memories.

  • 2
    2

    Kumaran, please excuse Alternate facts specialist Mr. Tennekoon sir cannot read or write in Chinese. Otherwise he sure would have been singing in Chinese for his supper. Rusiri, there was a time donor countries were writing blank cheques ,to our shit hole, not any more, especially after Uncle Mahinda stole Tsunami funds . Also Trump is cutting down all donations. So be happy with what you get .Can beggars be the choosers ????

  • 5
    1

    What a utter rubbish, man, under MMC the US has assisted 37 countries but none of them are under their boots. 80% of the land in the country is owned by the state and rest is privately owned. Most of them could be put to better use if they are identified and defined well. Even most of private lands too not defined and identified well, and this hinder their development for useful purposes. Let me give you some feed back about the kind of people who make noises about this. Some time back a lawyer friend of mine got a call from one of his friends – former land commissioner. In the mids of discussion, the commissioner told him, look Ranil going to make land registration easy and simplified. My friend told him, so what’s, it’s wonderful and good for the people. The replied he got was – Ranil has hit our stomach, meaning -the people at the land registry going to loss all those bribe and santhosam people pay to expedite their works. The lawyers are too making noises for they too unreasonably and royally milking the people using this cumbersome affairs at the land registry. They are only for their stomach, very selfish and greedy but not for any system which going to make people’s life easy and better, and for that end they would go to any length, even fear mongering and rousing the people with all falsehoods.

  • 5
    1

    Man, do you know the biggest land deal in the history of Asia – selling of a logistic facility in the port of Singapore, sold outright for US$21 billion. This one deal is more than our annual export earnings. Group of Chinese companies bought it for the use of their e-commerce companies like Alibaba for e-commerce is booming in Asia by leaps and bounds. If this happened in Sri Lanka by now our friends’ would have set the country on fire. Man, Chinese wouldn’t take it to China in their suitcases but it stays in Singapore for good but those USD21 billion would be put to better use for the good of their people. They very pragmatic and clever, not like our utter fools. Chinese bought the Darwin port in Australia, and ports in Turkey and Greece. Even they bought an Airport in Germany. All of them are purely commercial deals which bring immense benefits to all parties. Countries and companies often do these kinds of deals which move the wheels of the economy, and with all around benefits for all. If any deal good for the country, go for it for people are hungry for better lives, and from it something would trickle down to all of them, even for you and your children, and don’t rouse people’s feelings.

  • 0
    0

    It seems Tennakoon is saying because now West is accepting that Lankawe is selling its merchandise at GSP tax rate to West and paying interest at extra high rate to China for Loans and further additionally importing from China for $5B, if Lankawe take the Grant and pay it to china to buy & saw sea mines against American ships, America should accept it too. America should not be asking to repay the grant that was used against America. Otherwise Tennakoon thinks it is not fair term in MMC grant for Lankawe. Real Banker Thamai! Old King sold to America, took that money to pay interest to China and then got it back from China as commission and funded to defeat Susan Rice in America. But Thanks to State Secretary John Kerry, he came and kicked out Old from Temple Tree house. It was a real Boomerang to Old King for defeating Susan Rice.

    Champika is saying Rapist Army Headquarters was sold on the books at cheaper price and rest was received as commission and they bought Restaurant and hotels in Tangalle for 750 Million. Vow! This is how New King tried to get commission from Indian Industrialist for Kantale Sugar Factory. Then Ranil secretly complained to PM Modi. It sound like in Colombo and many other areas, the State owned Corporation are holding highly priced lands under very low book value to hide their loss to be seen low. If the land registration takes place, by nearby lands price, the money the corporations wasting going to be coming out. But even if they don’t let it go, not cared, then they won’t be able to get their cut on it when they give it china, like Rapist Army Headquarter.

  • 0
    0

    You know what they did with Dole Company Land deal. After earning their money on the name of Pirali & Jayewardene , they made the company to bulldoze all the Plantain Trees and full back out of Somawathiya Reserve. Hontai!

    Look now, China should have completed the Asia Pohutukawa two years ago. But it didn’t complete until two months ago. It was a bad contract, so no delay compensation for Lankawe. But there is a delay implementation loss available for China. So it has forfeiture of $15 M loan in its favor. Okaiiiiii; even after those all losses did Lankawe got the Pahatuwa Tower. No! Because on the ceremony day, while opening the Tower, New King said that Old King swindled $2M commission on that tower deal. China ordered the embassy to send full translation of New King’s opening speech. Then China is refusing to hand over the tower. Pahatuwa Tower is officially opened, but cannot be used by Lankawe. How much the Jaffna International Airport costed to Appe Aanduwa? $10M. How long it took to get it done? About Six months. Yesterday the first planes took off and landed in the Airport. But Aanduwa doubled the ticket price than it costing to Aanduwa. To hide these juggleries only Mr. Tennakoon is playing with the numbers in the MCC contract. As Mangala said, there is nowhere any line in the contract saying that USA will be taking any land from Lankawe for this grant. There is nowhere any line is saying that Lankawe has to give any military facility to USA, whether on payment basis or free. Tennakoon is becoming another Ali lawyer than a Banker.

  • 0
    0

    Isn’t this similar to what the Chinese are doing with their ‘Belt and Road’ project. Benefits to the Donor country and Disadvantages to the other?

  • 1
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    Rusiri, I admit I do not know in detail about MCC, for that matter not much about SCC,NCC AND ICC. What I know is how successive Lankan governments, especially Rajapaksas ran SriLankan airlines,Mihin, SL Telecom, government controlled Banks , Ports, government owned factories, Tea Industry, SL Cricket – – – – etc, most of which are either bankrupt, bleeding money or on a life line. I think anyone other than our Government will do better .(cant make it any worse.) So stop your nonsense. John, is absolutely right in that there are private companies and corporates which own and maintain infrastructures all over the world.(with adequate security clauses) For example , there is Macquarie Funds Group which owns shares in Highways/Toll roads , Airports, Ports and other infrastructure facilities all over world. Likewise some of the biggest shopping malls all over world , are either owned, operated and maintained by Australian Westfield group.(capital is A$ 65 Billion) Google for more information . Rusiri, is from “Lanka school of economics and politicking” and hence you see his expertise in alternate facts.

  • 1
    0

    Rusiri, stop getting all your facts from Hiru, and Derana. I see a world map in the background. Please try identifying the largest mining companies,(BHP, Rio Tinto Indian owned Adani) gas and oil exploring companies (Shell, BP, Statoil, Total )of today. They all own assets , all over world including Asia, Europe,Africa , Americas and some even in China and India. Rusiri does these mean ” total sell out”????

  • 0
    0

    I read the MCC Text . and it seems ok. There is nothing unusual. But as will all grants the danger is that once the people get used to it they will keep asking for it. and Then the US will have the upper hand.

  • 0
    0

    Some countries has commitment to MCC It is under stood that proper place in an overall strategy of attracting foreign Agreement and making it work for development. Policymakers need to know what role these treaties actually play and to what extent they can contribute, Nepal has reinforce the activities in Promoting growth opportunities, opening markets, raising the standard of living, and creating a more prosperous future.

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