ECONOMYNEXT – A visiting European Parliament delegation said they were pleased Sri Lanka had begun to benefit from the GSP+ scheme but were disappointed the government had not kept some of the promises given to win duty free access to European Union markets.
Members of the European Parliament Jean Lambert said the delegation was disappointed that some of the legal changes promised, like replacing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with a law in keeping with international law, had not been made.
The EU parliamentarians were also disappointed not enough progress had been made on reconciliation and accountability on alleged human rights abuses by government forces in the war against Tamil Tiger separatists despite government assurances, she told a news conference.
“This was one of the issues we raised a year ago – the PTA. It is still an element of concern,” Lambert said.
“We were given a government assurance that in a year there would be change. We are very disappointed to see we have still not got the changes on the statute books.”
Lambert said the EU parliament looks forward to constitutional changes which will improve human rights protection, rule of law and democracy in Sri Lanka.
“We told the government the momentum on reforms cannot be lost. This process needs to be seen to be moving because people seem to be losing hope in the government.”
The four-member delegation said in a statement that the GSP+ was granted “as an incentive for the reform process that the Sri Lankan government has embarked on,”
“Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also clarified that a condition for the European parliament not to oppose the granting of GSP+ was to follow closely the implementation of the 27 international conventions on human rights, good governance, labour right and environment.
“MEPs expressed concern that the progress achieved has been slower than originally hoped, but that the foundations for that progress were now mostly in place,” it said.
Lambert said that there had been some progress on government promises but not to the extent they were led to believe.
“If there has not been substantive progress in changes in the law in a couple of years, the European parliament will really want to know why,” she said.
“We would certainly be making a lot of rumbling noises if that specific legislation (PTA) has not been done.But don’t read into that, that it’s a major threat to GSP+. We want it to work.”
(COLOMBO, November 02, 2017)