President defends ETCA

Econ TradeSri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today defended his government’s decision to enter into an economic and technology cooperation agreement with India, saying protests against it are “politically motivated.”

“Why would my government take any action to deprive our people of jobs through the agreement,” Sirisena said.  He said the criticism of the pact are “politically motivated”.

The ETCA was proposed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when he visited India last September.

It seeks to boost cooperation in technical areas, scientific expertise and research among institutions, boost standards of goods and services able to compete on the global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development.

But local professional groups and opposition parties have been campaigning against the ETCA with India. They claim the pact would deprive employment opportunities to locals in the service sectors with an influx of Indian labourers into Sri Lanka.

The government denies the charge and accuses protesting groups of carrying out a public campaign without even knowing the contents of the pact. It says the agreement would expose Sri Lanka to the bigger Indian market.

Sirisena said the two sides are currently examining the draft of the agreement. His government remains committed to achieving national reconciliation with the Tamil minority.  “The war ended in May of 2009 but we are yet to address the root causes,” he said adding his government was keen to leave no room for Tamils to take up arms again.

He accused opposition groups of trying to spread stories on instability within the current government. He said the public mandate in the last election was for the two major parties to work together in a unity government. The current global economic down turn had affected the Sri Lankan economy, he said adding that remedial measures are being taken to minimise its impact. (Economic Times)

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