The incumbent Government would carry Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s concept of Trace City and would move towards implementing its second and third phase, Deputy Minister Dr Harsha De Silva said today.
Dr De Silva said that the concept should and would be taken forward so that knowledge-based, highly competitive employment opportunities would be created.
“This 10-acre land where the Trace City is located was taken over by the Army during the wartime.
“Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa renovated some warehouses and opened a knowledge park.
“There were some IT Sector investments in this park initially and this Government developed it further. London Stock Exchange opened an office there recently.
“More than 1,200 youth work in the offices which are located in this 10-acre land. Youth in software companies located in this land earn Rs 175,000 a month. We have to carry on with the project.
“It does not matter which Government launched this project. We will not allow anyone to destroy the Trace City Knowledge Park.
“Phase two and phase three will be done in Trace City. No one will approve the construction of a building for the Railways Department.
“Minister Champika Ranawaka had not approved the construction of a Railways Department building. Both buildings will be constructed in the two adjoining lands,” Dr De Silva said.
Focusing on the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Zone Dr De Silva said Sri Lanka should get into trade agreements to avoid isolation.
“If Sri Lanka failed to agree into FTAs with other countries it will be isolated and will have to face worse economic issues than the ones it is already facing,” he said.
“Regional Comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) Agreement will be signed by November this year. Sixteen countries will sign it. These include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and ASEAN, plus six countries including India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.
“All countries in the Indian Ocean region will get into one group as Pakistan and Bangladesh will also join that group. Only Sri Lanka will be left out when that happens.
“All countries in the Asian region had clearly stated that they will join RCEP,” he said
He said no third party country citizens could come and work here.
“No Singaporean or Indian doctor could come and open a dispensary in Sri Lanka under the Singapore-Sri Lanka FTA. However, he said inter-corporate transfers are possible under Mode 3 of the FTA.
“This means a company which invests here could bring in managers and other officials needed for the company.
“There is a clause which says if a Singaporean Company is bringing in managers such persons should hold one-year work experience in the same company.
“However visa will be given only for two years. Singaporean experts such as architects could only provide pre-advisory services online under the FTA.
“Imports will be subjected 35 per cent value addition. There is a list of negative goods for which there will be no free movement towards Sri Lanka. Mode Four is open in the FTA which Singapore had signed with India,” he said in this regard.