Sri Lanka will not sign economic pact with India: minister

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

July 24, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will not sign an economic pact with India until fears of local industrialists and professionals which suddenly cropped up despite four years of discussions are allayed, the island’s international trade minister said. On the same day, Wimal Weerawansa, a Marxist-nationalist lawmaker, challenged the government to release the draft CEPA document.

“Why are they not revealing it?” Weerawansa asked. “Even the Cease Fire Agreement was signed in this manner.”

He was referring to a ceasefire deal a previous government signed with Tamil Tiger guerillas which the present government abrogated earlier this year, under pressure from the nationalists.

Weerawansa recently broke away from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP, a party which advocated policies of high government expenditure and subsidizing imported commodities like fuel and fertilizer, and wholesale government recruitment, which Sri Lanka has faithfully followed from 2004.

The policies have landed the country in the highest inflation in its history this year of 29.9 percent and the island is now saddled with a bloated state sector that is eating up 55 percent of tax revenues on salaries and pensions alone.

But there have been concerns among eve