COLOMBO: Strong expressions of opposition to the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India are expected to grab the spotlight at a public rally to be held here on Thursday by the Joint Opposition Group (JOG) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The ETCA has become critical for the JOG for two reasons: Firstly, Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha had launched a frontal attack on the JOG at a public function. He had lashed out at the JOG for its baseless criticisms of the ETCA. Secondly, at the rally held by the ruling United National Party (UNP) here on Tuesday, the ETCA was touted as the harbinger of one million jobs for Lankan youth.
On Tuesday, the JOG appealed to the Indian government to “seriously consider whether they wish to endorse the public utterance of their envoy here, and whether it is likely to be conducive to a warm and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.” Earlier, a JOG MP, Udaya Gammanpila, had sought the expulsion of the envoy for “interfering in Lanka’s internal affairs.”
Taunting the UNP’s claim about job generation, the JOG says, “Yes. ETCA will create one million jobs, but for Indians not Lankans.” Earlier, Rajapaksa had said that Indian farm laborers are already here, and soon, barbers will come. This despite the fact that the ETCA allows “Movement of Natural Persons” only in IT Services and Ship Building.