President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday made a compelling case for the need to introduce a new legal framework to modernise the economy.

He revealed that over the past 14 months, the Parliament has enacted 42 new laws to facilitate the country’s economic transformation. Furthermore, the President highlighted the necessity of passing an additional 62 laws through Parliament. He underscored that if this cannot be achieved in the current Parliamentary session, the bills will be reintroduced in the subsequent session for approval. The President made this revelation during his keynote address at the ‘What’s New’ dialogue on legal reforms with young legal professionals initiated by the Presidential Secretariat at a forum at the BMICH, Colombo 7.

Additionally, the President launched the ‘What’s New’ website which was initiated by a group of young lawyers as a social media tool for youth to present suggestions and ideas for a legal renaissance that is essential for Sri Lanka to become a developed country by the year 2048.

In his keynote the President recalled that in 1977, President J.R. Jayewardene emphasised the significance of introducing new laws to facilitate the transition to an open economy, noting that such legislation was crucial for the country’s rapid economic transformation.

Furthermore, the President stressed the importance of enacting laws that are globally accepted to foster development. He highlighted the Government’s efforts to restructure State institutions involved in commercial activities, intending to convert all State corporations into companies and consolidate them under a central entity.

Several key legislative measures are anticipated, including the enactment of a Public Finance Management Act, Public Debt Management Act, Agricultural Modernisation Act, and an Economic Transformation Act. Furthermore, instead of the current Board of Investments and its associated trade zones, a new Economic Commission will be established to oversee economic activities and international trade. This commission will govern both existing and newly established trade

zones, ensuring cohesive and effective management of economic initiatives and investment infrastructure.

The Government also aims to introduce legislation pertaining to tourism, climate change, environmental protection, and the preservation of natural reserves such as Sinharaja, Sripada, Horton Plains, and Wasgamuwa parks. Furthermore, plans entail the dissolution of the Department of Commerce and the establishment of new international trade centres. These initiatives will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to streamline trade activities and foster economic growth.

Highlighting the implementation of laws dating back to 1944 in the education sector, the President underscored the forthcoming introduction of numerous new laws in education.

Despite attempts to obstruct these legislative efforts, the President emphasised the Parliament’s authority once laws are passed, asserting that no one can invalidate or indirectly impede them.

Addressing attempts to curtail Parliament’s authority under the guise of interpretation, the President reaffirmed that ultimate power resides solely within Parliament, as outlined in the 1972

Constitution. While acknowledging the President’s executive powers, he opined Parliament’s inability to nullify its own authority.

Furthermore, the President stressed that any attempts to restrict these laws should be channelled through Parliament for examination by legislative and judicial bodies. However, he underscored the inability to obstruct these laws, emphasising the imperative to prevent further hardship for the public.

“If some are inclined to label these activities as human rights violations then foremost human right is the right of the people of the country to live, with the second being the establishment of a promising future for the youth,” the President emphasised.


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