GMOA Assistant Secretary, Dr. Naveen D. Zoysa yesterday (16) said that although the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrema had said the Government hoped to develop Sri Lanka into a country like Singapore, there was a time that countries such as Malaysia wanted to be like Sri Lanka.
At present there are countries which want to emulate the Sri Lankan Free Health Service and have learnt from it, he noted. He warned that Sri Lanka was at a severe disadvantage with the SLSFTA. Identifying some of the drawbacks, he said that although Sri Lankan businessmen had the opportunity of setting up business ventures in private lands in Singapore, the land area which belonged to private owners was very little. Almost 90 per cent of Singapore’s land belonged to the Government, he claimed. However, land owned privately was much more in Sri Lanka, he alleged. Dr. Zoysa said the Agreement also stated that Singaporeans as well as non Singaporeans who have received permanent residency could commence their enterprises in Sri Lanka. There was no guarantee as to who would come into the country, he said.
He noted that although Governments changed, there was a set of people wanting to enter into agreements which jeopardized either the services or the assets of the country. Only certain sections benefit from these agreements, he alleged.