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The representatives of the International Monetary Fund who came to Sri Lanka last Thursday called a press conference and made a special statement about giving loans to Sri Lanka. There they said that they had reached a preliminary agreement to provide a loan of 2.9 billion dollars to Sri Lanka within a period of 04 years under several conditions. The representatives of the financial fund mentioned to the media that there are a number of issues that must be met by the government to achieve this.
However, the representatives decided to hold several rounds of talks with the government before sitting for this special press conference on Thursday. Apart from that, they had discussed with the opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa and his team, and with the former president Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and discussed a number of issues about the current situation in the country. During the negotiations with the government, a number of conditions were presented by the representatives of the financial fund, and based on the current situation, the government representatives agreed to those conditions without any hesitation.
Conditions by IMF
But due to a major condition presented by the financial fund at the last moment, by Wednesday, there were signs that the discussion would collapse. The main condition was that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka should be made an independent institution free from political influence in order to grant the loan. It was also a condition of the financial fund that it should be done through an act.
However, if that is done, the government will not get the opportunity to manipulate the central bank as it wants, so the government representatives did not agree to that condition. In that case, the central bank will not be able to provide billions of money when the government requests. It is also not possible to print money as the government says.
But in such a situation where the government is stuck in a serious economic crisis where it is unable to even pay the salaries of the public servants, if the central bank is to be independent as the financial fund says, there is a possibility of a big crisis, because the president’s side had informed the representatives of the financial fund that it cannot be done immediately and it must be done step by step.
Or, the government’s representatives were of the view that the central bank should be made independent under several steps and some power of the central bank should be maintained by the government. But the representatives of the financial fund continued to protest. Finally, when it was not possible to reach an agreement, the representatives of the financial fund informed the government that it would not be possible to enter into a staff agreement with the government at this time
They also informed that the Financial Fund needs some time to study the proposals on how to make the central bank independent from the government side, and therefore it will take more time to reach a staff agreement.
But the goal of the government was to somehow get the representatives of the financial fund to reach this staff agreement. But due to the tug of war on both sides, it was seen that the talks broke down. Accordingly, the financial fund also said that the negotiations were supposed to end on Wednesday, but due to some issues that could not be agreed upon, it was decided to postpone the negotiations for another day.
However, by Thursday, it was seen that the government had reached an agreement with the financial fund in this regard. It is not clear whether the government agreed to the condition proposed by the financial fund, or whether the financial fund agreed to the proposal presented by the government, but based on that agreement, the financial fund expressed its willingness to sign the staff agreement on Thursday. However, it is needless to say that if the government had agreed to the condition of the financial fund in order to reach this agreement, it would have been a serious situation.
However, on Thursday, the government carried out a big campaign and informed the country that the Financial Fund agreed to provide a loan of 2.9 billion dollars to Sri Lanka, as if it was a big victory. One of the things that many people who saw the news felt was that the Financial Fund was ready to give a check to Sri Lanka that very evening. But the real story is that the financial fund had agreed to give this loan amount after submitting a number of serious conditions to the government. Also, the representatives of the financial fund had a premonition that as soon as the green light of the financial fund was given, the government would give it a big media publicity and use it in a wrong way.
The reason for this was that there was some discussion about this kind of topic during the discussion with the representatives of the opposition. Accordingly, the representatives of the Financial Fund, who participated in the discussion, called a special news conference on Thursday itself and took steps to announce the conditions related to the granting of the loan one by one.
It was led by team leader Peter Brewer. There Brewer made it clear that despite signing this staff agreement, Sri Lanka would have to go through a long process to receive the money. In particular, Brewer said that it should have the approval of not only the management of the financial fund, but also the approval of the board of directors of the financial fund.
Brewer noted that certain conditions and facts may change in those cases. In addition, before going to these opportunities, he mentioned that the restructuring of the loans that Sri Lanka has taken so far is a mandatory condition. Peter Brewer also pointed out that if the debt restructuring is not possible, it will have a negative impact on the financial fund’s borrowing.
Role of Lazard
Accordingly, now the ball of getting loans is not in the hands of Sri Lanka, but in the hands of the representatives of the French Lazard Company who are ready to negotiate with Sri Lanka’s creditors. If the negotiations are successful, Sri Lanka can take one step forward in obtaining loans. If the negotiations fail, the entire loan process will collapse. If the negotiations are successful, Sri Lanka will receive $2.9 billion in installments over four years. It is also given after periodically reviewing the situation regarding Sri Lanka’s progress.
According to that, Sri Lanka is going to receive between 700 and 750 million dollars per year. Many people are of the opinion that it is not such a big amount in view of the current economic crisis. However, they believe that it will take another six months to receive the amount.
In addition to this, Peter Brewer took steps to give another very powerful message to the government in this discussion. That is, only a government with a mandate can implement the proposals of the financial fund and political reforms. Through that statement, he implicitly said that the current government does not have such a mandate.
It was also seen that a general election should be held immediately and a government with a mandate should be formed in Brewer’s statement. Accordingly, if the government intends to go on this journey with the existing parliament, there is a serious question as to how far it can go.
Another important thing that was said here was that the debt should be restructured after discussion with the creditors. At the very beginning of the proposal, President Ranil Wickramasinghe gave a statement to the media and said that he is ready to leave for Japan in the first week of September, and that Japan has already organized a conference with all creditors with the aim of restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt. Accordingly, the President said that Japan has undertaken to solve the problem.
It has been seen that the President’s statement has become a kind of propaganda project of the government through the fact that most of the media in this country have taken steps to give a big response to the President’s statement. Not only the Sri Lankan media, but the internationally recognized main media, Reuters, had also taken steps to give a lot of publicity to the news. Accordingly, once the Reuters News Service had taken steps to report a news without mentioning any source and it was said that Japan has also decided to hold such a conference.
Accordingly, the Sri Lankan media, quoting the Reuters news service, started publishing news saying that Japan is ready to hold a conference regarding Sri Lanka. At one time, the government had taken steps to launch a massive operation to win MPs from the opposition to the government based on the news reported by the Reuters news service and Sri Lankan media. This Japan conference was one of the main topics used by the government to get the SJB and Tamil Alliance MPs into the government.
Taking another step forward during these negotiations, Reuters news agency quoted a statement by Japanese Finance Minister Mr. Shunichi Suzuki and reported that they are ready to hold a conference to help Sri Lanka. The government ran a big media campaign to use that news for its own survival. But the problem arose last week when the Japanese Foreign Minister Mr. Yohimasa Hayashi issued a statement in this regard at the weekly press conference. When the journalists questioned the Japanese Foreign Minister about the conference being held regarding Sri Lanka, he said that although various matters have been discussed with Sri Lanka, there has been no discussion regarding the holding of such a conference.
The Japanese Foreign Minister emphasized that even Japan has not taken a decision on such a matter. The most special event that came to be seen there was that the Reuters news agency, which had repeatedly said that Japan would hold a conference by publishing news favorable to the Sri Lankan government, did not give any space to this statement of the Japanese foreign minister. According to that, many got suspiciouse and form serious doubt about whether there was any deal between Reuters news service and the government. Accordingly, the Japanese Foreign Minister has rejected the news of holding a conference on Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring.
Geneva knocking at the door
Meanwhile, the Geneva issue has also come to the forefront of the government’s throat. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ali Sabri and Minister of Justice Mr. Vijayadasa Rajapaksa are ready to represent the government to participate in the Geneva session this year. But it has been learned from sources from Geneva that several rounds of special negotiations between powerful countries are being held behind the scenes in Geneva, with Sri Lanka as the foundation.
America, Britain, Canada and several European countries are mainly involved in it. They have now come to a consensus and are strongly pressuring other countries to renew the human rights resolution against Sri Lanka at this conference.
At present, the Human Rights Commission has charged Sri Lanka with committing war crimes. But this time they claim that another new resolution should be passed against Sri Lanka, similar to war crimes charges, including incidents of serious human rights violations such as attacking the peaceful struggle, arresting the activists, and detaining them under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Initially, the government was also in a strict position to answer these accusations, but now it may have been seen that it has taken a bit more lenience. The reason for this is that the government has realized that if the Geneva resolution against Sri Lanka is passed, it will have a very negative effect on getting assistance from the financial fund. Accordingly, by last week, the government had sent messages to these major countries informing them that the government had planned to withdraw the Prevention of Terrorism Act within three weeks.
Instead, the government took steps to inform these countries through this message that it is ready to pass the Terrorism Act prepared by the former Justice Minister Mr. Tilak Marapana in 2015 with the agreement of the international community. Persons arrested under that act must be brought to court immediately, and measures have been taken to strengthen it by including checks and balances clauses.
However, despite receiving these kinds of messages from the government side, due to the way in which the government has targeted the strugglers in the past, these powerful countries have not given a good response to the government’s messages. It is a special to note that at least no country stands up for the government. Accordingly, many people are of the opinion that this year’s Geneva session will be very unfavorable for Sri Lanka.
Lifting ban on Tamil diaspora
On the other hand, the government lifted the ban imposed against Tamil diaspora organizations and Tamil nationals about two weeks ago with the aim of getting their support for Sri Lanka in this session. But it seems that the strategy of the government has also failed based on a statement made by Suren Surendran, a strong diaspora activist in London, to the media. There he said that the diaspora including himself will not be caught in this knot of the government and that the government is preparing to solve the problem by pointing out the Tamil diaspora when they get stuck in Geneva.
But Surendran, who claimed that his organization was the first to accuse the government of war crimes, said that in addition to those accusations, along with many other serious accusations will be presented against the government in this session. Surendran had mentioned there that the charges include attacking the peaceful struggle and the way they were suppressed illegally.
In addition to the Tamil diaspora, the Sinhalese diaspora in Europe is also ready to accuse the government of human rights violations in this session. There they are ready to bring the repression launched against the activists to the attention of international countries at the Human Rights Commission this year. Last week, they took busses from different areas and came in front of the Geneva Commission to hold a demonstration as a rehearsal.
Ali Subry meets Sajith.
In this way, when all the affairs were lined up against the government, Mr. Ali Sabri, the foreign minister, spoke to the opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa last Monday and took steps to ask for his support regarding the Geneva conference this year. Sabi’s attempt was to get Sajith to make a statement favorable to the government regarding human rights.
But Sajith clearly pointed out to Sabri that he was on one stand regarding the LTTE since then, and that stand has not changed even now. He also said he never supported the LTTE and always spoke against terrorism. Sajith pointed out to Sabri that there is no problem, and said that he is not at all satisfied with the way the government acted to suppress the struggle. Sajith told Sabri that he strongly opposes the repression and said that he will continue to stand for the peaceful struggle and the peaceful strugglers.
Last weekend, the President had planned to visit Monaragala and Kataragama areas and share ideas with the people there. Accordingly, all the officers had gone to those areas, and strict security had been deployed in those areas. But at the last minute, a message received from Colombo said that it has been decided to cancel all those programs of the President.
Also, at that time, a group meeting of the ruling party’s members was planned to be held at the President’s Secretariat at 5 pm on Monday. But at that time, a whisper among the members of the government said that the president was always talking about different things, and that he was not working to implement those talks. Therefore, it was further said in those whispers that this group meeting should be boycotted.
In addition to this, there was a strong objection from the members of Pohottuwe regarding the appointment of Cabinet Ministers and the delay in the appointment of State Ministers to the President as of last week. For that reason, they were of the opinion that this MP group meeting should be boycotted.
On the other hand, an unofficial rumor was also spreading among the MPs based on the sudden cancellation of the President’s Monaragala Kataragama visit. The reason for this was that a rumor spread that the President had contracted the Corona virus due to the fact that the first round of discussion with the officials of the Financial Fund was held through Zoom technology. In that case, the MPs were of the opinion that the President would have to stay at home for about 10 days, and under such a background, the President would not be able to present the budget or come to the Parliament.
The rumor was not confirmed, and the rumors got more wings due to the fact that the President did not appear in public. But the President put an end to all those rumors and came to Parliament on Monday and presented the interim budget document on Tuesday. But the problem was that the President suddenly canceled two other important meetings that were scheduled to be held in Parliament on Tuesday.
Those two meetings were the meeting of the party leaders of the ruling party and the meeting of the party leaders of the Parliament. Both the meetings were cancelled, but no reason was given by the President. Accordingly, the cancellation of this meeting and the cancellation of the Monaragala Kataragama tour is still a mystery.
However, at 2 pm on Tuesday, the President took steps to meet the group of parliamentarians. Although the President came to the Parliament for that purpose, the President found that the members of Pohottuwa have not given much recognition to that. The President could see from their faces that many MPs were somewhat disappointed. The President also got to see this situation at the MP group meeting.
Pohottuwa MPs demand
During an inquiry conducted by from some sources, the President unofficially learned that the MPs in Pohottuwe are very disappointed due to not being given cabinet and state ministerial positions. From that information, the President came to know that a decision has been taken that if the positions are not given to them as soon as possible, they will not vote for the interim budget. It has been reported to the President that not only MPs who are hoping for the posts of State Ministers but also those who are hoping for the posts of Cabinet Ministers too are disappointed.
Accordingly, Dilum Amunugam and Shehan Semasinghe went to speak on behalf of the state ministers after the MP group meeting on Tuesday and met the President. These two MPs gave a long speech and pointed out to the President that the MPs in Pohottuwa are very disappointed and that they will boycott the budget voting if they are not given the positions of state ministers before the budget vote.
Accordingly, the President informed them and said that he will work on appointing state ministers before the budget vote. But the president took steps to inform Dilum and Shehan that the appointment of cabinet ministers will be done later. The reason for that is that the President said that he is planning to create a national government, so he needs some more time to create the necessary environment for that.
Accordingly, when Dilum and Shehan informed the party about this, another conflict got created within the party. The MPs strongly pointed out that such a thing cannot be done at all and that the President should take steps to appoint Cabinet and State Ministers as soon as possible. If not, they said that a large group of Pohottuwa is ready to boycott the budget vote.
Accordingly, it was seen how the MPs of Pohottuwa were making some calculations about the number of MPs for the ruling party and the opposition. In this polling, they saw that when all the members of Samagi Jana Balawega, Dullas’ group, Wimal’s group, Maithripala’s group, Tamil National Alliance, Janata Vimukthi Peramuna etc. were added, the number would be close to 108. They also found that the number of 134 MPs who voted for the appointment of Ranil as the President will be reduced to 118.
Accordingly, they decided to point out the situation to the President and influence the President to act in the way they want. The ‘Rajya rahas ‘ column has also heard that even during a discussion where Basil, Mahinda, Namal and other Pohottu MPs gathered last week, Namal insisted on this.
Under that situation, the ‘Rajya rahas’ belt has also come to know that last Thursday night, the President had sent a special representative to discuss with Namal. It is also known that the special representative had been instructed by the President to conduct the meeting in the form of a party.
In the meantime, the MPs who are frustrated like this took steps to meet Mr. Sagara Kariyawasam, the General Secretary of Pohottuwa on Wednesday. There they also informed Sagara that if the President does not take steps to give them the posts of state ministers as soon as possible, they will take steps to boycott the Parliament on the polling day. It is also reported that some MPs had expressed their opinions in a very impulsive manner. Accordingly, Sagara told them that he would take steps to inform the seniors of the party. Accordingly, Sagara took steps to inform Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Minister Prasanna Ranatunga about this immediately.
Accordingly, a crucial discussion was held between the President, the Prime Minister and Prasanna last Thursday. Prasanna had strongly pointed out that a significant group of councilors had decided to boycott the budget vote if they did not get the positions. Accordingly, the president understood the situation and said that he would work to appoint the state ministers by the 9th. The President also said that the number of state ministers is 35. The president also said that he has planned to appoint 40 cabinet ministers. That includes the current 18 cabinet ministers.
Dullas’s cross over
Meanwhile, last Monday night, Mr. Sajith Premadasa, the opposition leader, received a special phone call from Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma. In that call, Dullas informed Sajith that on Tuesday, 13 MPs including himself had decided to sit in the opposition. Sajith, who highly appreciated this decision of Dullas, also made a promise to Dullas that he would provide all possible support for it. Also, on Monday night, Dullas also informed the speaker of his decision and requested to allocate the seats in the parliament.
Dr Nandalal’s presentaion
Last week, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe came to the Parliament complex to deliver a speech regarding the current economic situation in the country. This is considered to be the first time that a central bank governor has come to the parliament and delivered a speech to the ministers on the state of the country. Although the Governor of the Central Bank came to Parliament to carry out this work in a professional manner, some of MPs in Pohottuwa behaviour was not appreaciable by anyone. The reason was that a group of MPs in Pohottuwa deliberately asked some unwanted and embarrassing questions from the Governor of the Central Bank.
Once, a Pohottu MP representing Monaragala district questioned the Governor of the Central Bank whether he was still a dual citizen. Nandalal replied that he is not a dual citizen. Although this Monaragala MP represents Pohottuwa, he is currently keeping his feet in another place apart from Pohottuwa. With the questioning of this MP, it was observed that it was a planned action. with this many of the MPs in Pohottuwa start firing questions that would make the Governor of the Central Bank uncomfortable
However, there was an exchange of words between Lakshman Kiriella MP and Dr Nandalal when Nandalal said that only 200 million dollars were left in the Central Bank when he assumed office. There, Kiriella said that the Central Bank had never informed Parliament about such a situation, and even Parliament, which has monetary power, was not aware of it. Accordingly, when there was an exchange of words, Kiriella got up from his seat and left the meeting.
After that, a heated exchange of workd took place between Harsha and the members of Pohottuwe. Harsha said that the opposition leader and himself had informed the government on many occasions that such a crisis would arise, but the government was not responsible. There Pohottu councilors were seen making a strong attack on Harsha.
There, Harsha tapped with his hands to the microphone in front of him and said, ‘The government tells us from morning to evening come and join together to form an all-party government. But the MPs of this constituency do not have the humility to admit such a mistake by their own hands. How can we continue to work together with such MPs?…’ and took steps to leave the meeting. Ranjith Maddumabandara was seen leaving the meeting along with Harsha.
However, in this meeting, it was a special event to see Mr. Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, appreciating the actions of the Central Bank Governor.
The Samagi Jana Balawega MP group meeting was held at the opposition leader’s office. The President’s Appropriation Bill was discussed at length there as well.
Sajith had taken steps to invite several professors who had genuine knowledge of the economy to the occasion.
‘Clarify the truth about the budget situation…’ Sajith demanded.
They presented at length about the deficiencies in the budget, its serious errors.
Whatever issues are in this budget, the president will not get a chance to succeed in this budget. He has become a prisoner of the majority of MPs in Pohottuwa…’ said Dr. Harsha de Silva.
Some points in the budget proposal are good. There are a few things we can agree on. But he will not be able to bring these to the practical level…’ Sajith said.
We cannot whitewash the government in any way in the budget. Because the president is completely a slave to the pohottuwa. He has created not our government. He has created a government of the pohottuwa. He will run for it in the next election. That means that in the next election, the UNP will be with the pohottuwa. They compete together said Rohana Bandara.
However, many people’s attention was drawned on a statement made by Kiriella.
We cannot do politics that depends on others with our feet on both sides. It is not possible to use the united people’s power as each one wants. We are the main opposition in this country. Not only that, the next party to take power. So we don’t need to survive on anyone’s things. Let’s stand our ground. At this time, Pothuttuva and UNP are one and the same. One and the same. There is nothing to be afraid of saying that to the country…’ Kiriella said
Sajiht made several disclosures in Parliament and outside of the ongoing conspiracy against the Governor of the Central Bank. He said that the government is working to appoint one of its cronies to the post of central bank governor by labeling the central bank governor as a ‘dual’ citizen.
By Special correspondent