Sri Lanka lawmaker challenges minister to debate over land deal

July 25, 2011 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan lawmaker has challenged a government minister to a television debate over the sale of state land to a Chinese firm. Harsha de Silva, a lawmaker representing Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party, referred to a statement attributed to deputy economic development minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene by a state news agency.

The statement had quoted the minister as saying that the sale of a land to a Chinese state firm was “carried out with transparency and according to the laws of the country and not violated any rules or regulations of the country,” and that cabinet and parliamentary approval has been obtained.

De Silva had earlier pointed out that the deals were not made with open tender and several procedures specified in Sri Lanka’s strategic investment law has also not been carried out.

There were two land sales to CATIC, a Chinese firm and Shangri-La, a Hong Kong -based leisure group.

De Silva said in a statement that the deal has not been presented to parliament for ratification and only information that had been given had been in response to questions from himself and fellow UNP lawm