As per the draft Port City Economic Commission Bill tabled, the President can appoint foreign citizens as the commission's members if he chooses to, Justice Minister Mohammed Ali Sabry said, pointing out that there is no hindrance to such action.
The Justice Minister made this observation speaking at a special press briefing held in raising awareness on the draft Port City Economic Commission Bill yesterday (18).
"We are hoping to collect about fifteen billion - fifteen billion US Dollars! - from the investments made with the Port City alone once the project is concluded. It would have been better if the lease period is below than a 99-year period. But looking at it in practical aspect, they must have argued that they need more time to collect it back with the benefit after the spending. The 99-year period may have been a compromisation of the arguments from the both parties," Sabry said.
Responding to a query on whether there is any assurance that no foreign citizen would be appointed as a member of the Commission given that the Bill imposes no hindrance to such appointment, Sabry said, "There is no problem with me if a majority of them would be Sri Lankan citizens. But I find no problematic if there is a foreign citizen who is capable of bringing investments."
Joining the conversation, Ruling Party MP Dilan Perera said, "I recall three persons who happened to be Sri Lankans. They are currently no Sri Lankan citizens, but citizens of either the US or Britain. But they have the necessary qualifications."
Sabry added, "You are seeing only one. There are many people who have contributed to Sri Lanka. We have never thought of amending this law. The President can appoint foreign citizens as members of the Commission, if he chooses to. No hindrance for now," in response to a reporter who queried whether the President is taking the responsibility, has any foreign citizen attached to the Port City committed an irregularity, recalling the Bond Scam and Arjuna Mahendran.