The United Professionals Movement warned that apart from the Fundamental Rights Petitions filed by likeminded groups against the signed Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, they would also, if required, take to trade union action when the case is being taken up in the Supreme Court.
The said Agreement was signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Singapore in January this year.
At present, the Movement, the Society of Information Technology Professionals, Mawbima Lanka, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the Government Medical Officers Association, the Professionals National Front and Somasiri Liyanage have filed fundamental rights cases in this regard.
“Firstly, there is the aspect of ‘national treatment’ as per the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade conditions. This means that Singaporean nationals would be treated in Sri Lanka in a manner equal to the treatment meted out to Sri Lankan citizens. Therefore, in this regard we call for an accreditation process for professionals to be established and rules and regulations in this regard to be put in place so as to guarantee the quality of any local professional or foreign professional working on Sri Lankan soil. Secondly, despite three years of discussions and negotiations, no ‘impact assessment’, a study to show the benefits to the country, has been done scientifically. Thirdly, there is the aspect of the ‘most favoured nation’, which is that, if Sri Lanka is affording any special benefit to Singapore under the Agreement, India too by default is entitled to such and can make a likewise claim.”
He noted that, there are trade unions in various sectors affiliated to the Movement, adding that they would marshal these forces if necessary on the dates the case is to be taken up for hearing in Court.