Government defends move to recruit foreign consultancy firm

Emblem_of_Sri_Lanka.svg_The Government today defended the decision to recruit a foreign consultancy firm.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) decided to engage the services of Yuvanjan Wijeyatilake, former Attorney General to draft new laws and to revise existing laws relating to the proposed Financial City.

The statement said that the services of Baker and McKenzie one of the leading global law firms specialising in financial-commercial Tax laws have been retained to advise the Government in the regard to the legal implications of the different financial models. i.e.  Ireland, UK, Channel Islands, Dubai and Hong Kong.

The firm is also advising the Government on the Indonesian tax laws and other similar laws.  They have not been assigned any other work.  This task will be handled by Baker and McKenzie office in Hong Kong.

The Prime Minister’s office said that media reports have deliberately mentioned that Baker and McKenzie is having an office in Colombo and they are practicing in Sri Lanka.

“This is false. Baker and McKenzie has not set up an office in Sri Lanka as a legal firm and they are not entitled to do so under the Rules of the Supreme Court. Another project undertaken by the Government is the establishment of a Central Programme Management Unit based on the PEMANDU (Performance and Management Delivery Unit) in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office. For this purpose, the Government has entered into an agreement with McKinsey and Company (Malaysian Office) the well known global Management Consultancy firm. This Malaysian Office team which has first hand knowledge of the PEMANDU will assist the Government in setting up of the Central Programme Management Unit in Colombo. McKinsey is not a legal firm and it has no connection with Baker & McKenzie,” the Prime Minister’s office said.

The Government also drew attention to another false and malicious report which says that the professionals have walked out from the discussions on Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

The Government says it is having discussions with all legally recognised professional associations, business associations and trade unions and no one has boycotted or left discussions.

Furthermore, the Government said that news reports that revenue proposals have been dropped from the National Development Plan is also false.  The Macro-Economic Stabilisation Programme is one of the key elements of the National Development Plan.

The Government says it is negotiating with India, China and Singapore to enter into economic and trade agreements.

Further, the Government is negotiating to obtain the GSP+ concessions to re-enter the Single European Market.  The Government will also hold discussions on Free Trade Agreements with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and number of other countries next year.

The Government is also discussing an Economic Cooperation programme with Japan.  The Government’s policy is to make Sri Lanka the Hub of the Indian Ocean and seek to exploit the synergies of the Indian Act East Policy for the region and the Chinese One-Belt One-Road initiative.

The aim of these efforts is to expand the market for the Sri Lankan products to create one million jobs for the Sri Lankans, expand the middle class and revive the rural economy. (Colombo Gazette)