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If Gota wins the US will have two First Ladies – Mangala

Finance Minister Samaraweera says the Millenium Challenge Corporation deal only has provisional approval and it can only be finalized by Parliament

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera/Finance Ministry

Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said that in the unlikely event of Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins the presidential election on 16 Nov, Sri Lanka will have a president who is a US citizen and his wife will be the second American First Lady after Melania Trump.

[Eds Note: Gotabaya has said that he has renounced his US citizenship but is yet to show conclusive proof]

Speaking at a press conference last evening (6 Nov) at the Finance Ministry, Samaraweera said that the greater concern to all Sri Lankans is not the MCC which will contribute to developing the country but the fact that Gotabaya who is a presidential candidate has not yet renounced his US citizenship.

“Meanwhile his wife and son continue to be fully pledged citizens of the United States of America,” he added.

Further, he said that to renounce the citizenship a US passport holder must obtain a certificate of loss of nationality with the US treasury where DS-4079 (Request for determination of possible loss of US citizenship) is approved for renunciation.

“There is no approved DS-4079 for Gotabaya Rajapaksa in any of the 94 district courts of USA, we have checked with all 94 district courts,” said Samaraweera.

Also speaking about the controversial MCC agreement to be signed, the minister said that the Rajapaksa camp in most of the times has done their politics by creating some political monster and misleading the people to accomplish their narrow political objectives.

He said that a few years ago the same monster was created when the Suwasariya ambulance service was about to be launched by saying that Indians are trying to intervene in Sri Lanka.

But today he said it had become a historic and valued service which provides excellent service to people.

The minister also said that if anyone can prove that any land is given to the US government through the MCC he will quit politics.

He added that cabinet approval for the MCC did not happen all of a sudden targeting the election, but it was stuck in the cabinet for months while Ministers discussed it.

It was necessary to get provisional approval so that the issue could be presented to the MCC board which is due to meet in the second week of December.

Timeline of the MCC grant process in the last 5 years / Finance Ministry

Samaraweera said that the project under the MCC grant will only happen after the parliament has approved it.

Explaining about the MCC he said that through the MCC grant Sri Lanka will receive $ 480 million (Rs 86 bn) and its the Sri Lankan government and not the MCC has to decide how to use that money.

So accordingly the government has decided to invest that money as follows,

MCC Transport Project – $ 350 million

  1. Advanced Traffic Management System- $ 160 million
  2. Bus Transport Service Modernization – $ 50 million
  3. Central Ring Road Network ( upgrade of approximately 131 km of interprovincial roads connecting Central, Sabaragamuwa, Uva and Eastern Province)- $ 140 million

MCC Land Project – $ 67 million 

Which aims to expand and increase the existing government initiatives to increase the availability of spatial data and land rights information.

The remaining $ 63 million will be used to support technical assistance, feasibility and design studies, project administration, monitoring and evaluation.

Handout given by the Finance Ministry on the MCC grant project

Further Samaraweera said for the past 56 years the US had given similar grants which amount to $ 2 billion which also includes a grant of Rs 7 bn to the Mahaweli development project in the 1980s.