Sri Lanka: Did you know MCC $480m covers only 7 districts, 28% of land area & 10 land registries
There is much hype about a corporate development entity under the US Government known as MCC offering Sri Lanka a ‘GIFT’ of $480m. We are supposed to be on our knees in gratitude. While the land project allocation is just $67m, Sri Lanka has to not only agree to a set of preconditions that include privatizing all state land, but amend our constitution, change our land laws, and even have the agreement passed by Sri Lanka’s Parliament – all these changes & more, just to have a disbursement of $480 across 5 years to a private company and for MCC to do 7 districts covering just 28% land area. What is the big deal in this MCC project?
Key preconditions to the disbursement of $480m & to make avail of just $67m for the land project include:
- Privatizing all state land(84% of land belongs to the People with Government as custodian of the land) If all of Sri Lanka’s land becomes private land, what is the use of a government & how can a government function without land to tax?
- MCC demands transferring all deeds into Title Registration – The Government has to undertake to not only transfer private deeds to title registration (bim saviya) but do the same for State lands as well. Only temple lands have been omitted after opposition. Conversion to bim saviya started in 2006 but only less than 1m title registrations have been completed in view of the legal issues, complicated by the legal restrictions in the bim saviya (title registration) after transfer.
For $480m out of which only $67million is given to the land project, Sri Lanka has to
- Sign and pass MCC Agreement in Parliament making a bilateral agreement into domestic law but agreeing not to apply Sri Lankan law but international law as well as agree to a host of shocking exemptions, immunities and privileges to MCC
- After signing and passing MCC Agreement, Sri Lanka has to set up a private company to which MCC funding will get disbursed across 5 years (the annual disbursements are already given in the MCC Agreement)
- MCC funding is not going to be handed to the Sri Lankan Treasury but to a private bank that MCC chooses
- Sri Lanka has to amend our constitution & repeal existing land laws/statutes
- Attorney General must issue a letter, worded to the satisfaction of MCC that the Agreement is valid & does not violate Sri Lanka’s constitution. Such a letter was signed by the former AG during the previous government (present CJ)
- MCC wishes to set up a LandPolicyResearch Group to amend existing land laws
- MCC also wishes to have amendments to the Title Registration Act (Bim Saviya) to accommodate its objectives
After agreeing to all the above & much more, for a paltry $480m out of which just $67million is being allocated to the land project, MCC is agreeing to do only 7 “TARGETED” Districts which are
MCC will allocate the $67million for these 7 districts that cover 28% land area & 10 land registries.
There are 25 districts in Sri Lanka. If MCC is agreeing to fund only 7 districts – that means the GoSL has to undertake to fund the remaining 18 districts. How much is this cost for the GoSL?
There are 45 land registries in Sri Lanka. If MCC is agreeing to fund only 10 land registries – that means the GoSL has to undertake to fund the remaining 35 land registries. How much is this cost for the GoSL?
We are told this MCC $480m is a “gift” for all of Sri Lanka.
However, from the land project it is clear that we are in for a raw deal. After privatizing the People’s land (that belongs to future generations as well) the MCC is undertaking to do only 7 districts and 10 land registries. So this “gift” is actually only for the 7 districts only! While the GoSL will have to fund the bulk but how the GoSL will fund anything would be baffling when it finds it has no land to even tax!
Those who are suggesting that MCC can be signed after amendments should relook at the agreement as ‘amendments’ are claimed to have been done on 18 June 2018. Therefore, MCC is unlikely to agree to further amendments.
The shortsightedness of politicians confounded by corrupt political advisors will soon turn our island nation into a foreign corporate colony & our people will be landless as the Native Hawaiians. White businessmen in 1887 forced the Hawaiian king at gunpoint to sign a new constitution (Bayonet Constitution) gave foreigners the right to vote and restricted voting for Natives. Pearl Harbour was turned into a US Naval Refueling station in 1887 (US is eyeing Trinco for same). 1898 US annexed Hawaii. Lands were taken from natives who lacked satisfactory documentation to prove the land belonged to them. The entire island of Lāna‘i was sold off to Jim Dole for a pineapple plantation.
How the US stole HAWAII — GOING TO HAPPEN TO SRI LANKA TOO???
These examples suffice for Sri Lanka to be cautious knowing too well why Sri Lanka’s geopolitical positioning has been a target by external elements. Any agreements should be viewed from the prism of what their real objectives are and taking stock of what they have done to other countries too.
Shenali D Waduge