Baited Breath

Oct 27, 2011 (LBO) – A court decision is expected shortly on a proposed law in Sri Lanka to expropriate assets of citizens which are deemed as ‘underutilized’ by the state about which little information is publicly known, reports said. Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror newspaper has said that an “Act to provide for the vesting in the State identified Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets” had been sent to the Supreme Court as an ‘urgent bill’ for approval.

The newspaper said the bill had apparently been drafted by a private legal firm.

The bill sought to appoint a competent authority to “underperforming enterprises or underutilized assets” for the “effective managing, administration or revival through alternative utilization and the payment of compensation,” the newspaper said.

Sri Lanka’s rulers had in the past, violated the property rights initially of foreign nationals and then its own citizens through various expropriation laws, but later invited investors back even giving them tax breaks after the economy collapsed.

After independence from British rule Sri Lanka has followed a system of parliamentary absolutism where unjust and discriminatory laws could be easily passed with the parliament