Dear
Colleagues/Leaders of United Professionals Movement (UPM)

Further to our communication dated 20th November 2015, It is our responsibility to update you all with the current
status, activities and victories we have gained towards our common cause –
"Proposed India Sri Lanka Bilateral Agreement" – ETCA

 

Dear Colleagues/Leaders
of Organization of Engineering Associations (OEA)

After forming OEA on January 28th, we have moved fast with
the active participation of your membership lead by capable people like you.
Given below is an update on the current status, activities and victories we
have gained towards our common cause – "Proposed India Sri Lanka Bilateral
Agreement” – ETCA

1. September 17, 2015 – SLEA symposium on India-Sri Lanka
CEPA at SLFI

2. September – October 2015 – SLEA conducts few awareness
programs on CEPA and join hands with 11 professional bodies to jointly express
professional view point on CEPA and sought an appointment with the president
and prime minister

3. November 9, 2015 – UPM was formed with above 11 signatory
professional bodies and a press conference was held at the OPA to announce our
opposition to ISL-CEPA and the letters to that effect were sent to the
President and the Prime Minster of Sri Lanka for the second time.

4. On invitation in November 4th week, 2015 – UPM met DG
Commerce and the Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Commerce to get the
government perspective on proposed ISLETCA Framework Agreement ( a very early stage, crude draft was given to us). We found
the Framework Agreement to have the fundamental concepts in ISL-CEPA. We as UPM
clearly objected to the Framework Agreement, as it was a lose approach to a
nationally significant bilateral agreement. We were told that that ISL-ETCA FA
would be signed in February 2016 and the full ISL-ETCA would be signed in
May/June 2016. We were also told that the time lines were dictated by the Prime
Minister’s office.

5. In response to the request made by DG commerce as UPM a
clear response was sent on 7th December stating our stand on proposed ETCA
agreement.

6. December 7, 2015 – UPM met The Minister of Development
Strategies and International Trade (Mr. Malik Samarawickrama) who is
responsible for getting ISL-ETCA done as per the schedule. We had the
confirmation that Dr. Saman Kellegama (absent) and
Dr. Indrajith Kumaraswamy ( both economists) are responsible leaders for the Sri Lanka
side negotiations. We understood that it is IT and Ship Building industries
that would be first liberalized for services and steadily others service
sectors would be brought in. We reiterated our opposition to the continued lack
of transparency on the process, concept of having a Framework Agreement first
before a detailed agreement and complete absence of professionals direct
involvement in this national policy making process where our professional services
are being negotiated. We said that we were willing to work with GoSL to formulate a “national policy on bilateral trade”
first and then look at individual countries such as India on that basis to
ensure our national interests. We expressed our willingness to name
professionals to a task team. Minister accepted our offer.

7. December 9, 2015 – UPM submitted our observations in
writing to the Secretary of the Ministry with copy to DG Commerce. This letter
clearly indicated our objections and overarching suggestions to improve the
process. Next 5-6 weeks, we kept following up to get a response without
success.

8. December 9, 2015 – Prime Minister officially announced
that GoSL wouldn’t sign ISLCEPA. but
will formulate a new pact called ISL- ETCA. According to the PM, the most
controversial trade arrangement under ISL-CEPA ( mode
4) the “free movement of natural persons” was not part of ISL-ETCA. However,
Service Trade was part of ISL- ETCA with goods and investments.

9. December 21, 2015 – GoSL had
its 4th round of discussions with India on ETCA FA

10. January 26, 2016 – UPM and its individual signatory
parties received a letter from the Secretary to the Ministry of Development
Strategy and International Trade requesting submission of our ideas on ISL ETCA
by January 29, and to get ready for another meeting with the Minister.

11. January 28, 2016 – OEA formed, unifying a large number
of engineering unions and associations to join the cause and a press conference
was held at IESL. Later letters to this effect were sent to the President and
the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka clearly stating OEA’s objection to the ongoing
process behind ISL ETCA and the need for professionals’ participation in
national policy making.

12. January 28, 2016 – UPM responded in writing to the
Secretary stating that we had already given the input on December 09, 2015 and
want to proceed with our proposed action plan

13. February 2, 2016 – Totally ambivalent to our response,
the Secretary to the Ministry sent another letter requesting UPM to:

13.1 Name professionals to the
working committee to formulate ISL – ETCA

13.2 To come to the First of this
working committee meetings on the16th of February

 

14. February 11, 2016 – The planned UPM / OEA march and
rally successfully held as a show of force irrespective of the letter we received
from the Ministry on February 2nd.

15. February 12, 2016 – Since it appeared that there was
either miscommunication or indifference to our suggestions we requested a
meeting with the Minister directly through a contact. This was as a result of
informal networking to further our cause at a time when things were different.
We requested a postponement of the meeting from 9th February, to go after the
rally for obvious reasons – not to jeopardize already planned massive protest
rally. A Productive meeting took place with the Minister in the presence of Dr.
S Kelegama, Dr I Kumaraswamy, Mr. Upul Jayasuriya and the Secretary to the
Ministry. Since the

meeting was scheduled with a short
notice it was decided to send a small delegation, namely; Gamini Nanda Gunawardana,
Palitha Abewardane, Arjuna
Manamperi, Prasanna Narangoda. The meeting was a
cordial and extremely open exchange of understanding of the future course of
actions:

15.1 What we want is work sessions
to complete tasks at hand jointly

15.2 We should work towards a
national trade policy within which ISL ETCA should be framed (
or
anything else) with all required regulatory framework and national
interests in place.

15.3 Most up-to date draft
Framework Agreement to be given to us at the first meeting (
according
to the Minister this is not seen by the Indian team yet)

15.4 Contributions from
professionals on all matters – legal frame works on professional practices,
visa, taxes, a mechanism to establish full transparency to the team as well as
citizens of the country to avoid confusions to be established ( we will propose
this as the first step and get it done )

15.5 To name few representatives
from our Team for the first work session on the 16th to understand the current
thinking from the GoSL, future actions, roles etc.
Therefore, in consultation with you, we will carefully select a few for the
first session from our larger team ( UPM / OEA) for
the 16th meeting and brief the plan of action. We are going to have many work
sessions and will have to bring deep specific skills as needed basis to
formulate this national policy on international trade and ISL ETCA

15.6 We also impressed upon the
Minister that the success of our working model could be used to formulate other
national policies that are missing! He agreed fully.

15.7 In general what transpired was
the common understanding of what the country needs but the differences in
approaches due to lack of transparency and missing collaboration. We believe
the foundation has been laid to begin this process. We should be thankful to
each and every one of you whole heatedly. Your commitment, solidarity and
participation in protest rally helped us to get closer to our target.

 

THANK YOU ALL AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR UNTIRING EFFORTS.

 

Let’s tread carefully with transparency, trust and common
sense yet with strategic intent that is best for the nation and it’s future generation.

·        
Kushan Jayasuriya – Convener – UPM

·        
Senal Fernando –
Convener – UPM

·        
Chandimal Jayakody –
Convener – OEA

Updated Date 14th February 2016