US, UK, France abstain, IMF vote to approve Sri Lanka loan
[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 July 2009, 00:10 GMT]
Despite opposition from the US, UK, and France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Friday approved a $2.6B loan to Sri Lanka, of which approximately $322m will be made available immediately, wire reports from Washington D.C. said. "The U.S. position was based on an assessment, in the current circumstances, of the ability and commitment of the government to carry out necessary policy adjustments during an IMF program," a U.S. Treasury spokesperson said. A British Government source said that that it was “not the right time to go forward” with the loan, because Sri Lanka is forcibly detaining nearly 300,000 mostly Tamil refugees in internment camps and spending a large proportion of its wealth on its military - even though the country’s bloody 26-year civil war ended in May, British daily, The Times reported.
US (17%), UK (5%), and France (5%) control a total of 27% of the IMF vote.
"Reconstruction and humanitarian relief efforts are a large undertaking. Significant spending priorities need to be met while debt sustainability is maintained," Takatoshi Kato, the fund's deputy managing director and acting chairman, said in a statement, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
"Reducing the central government fiscal deficit, while preserving spending on health and education and protecting the most vulnerable in society from the economic downturn, is a central goal of the government's program," Kato said, Dow Jones report added.
Speaking for Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), the US-based activist group that filed law suit seeking an injunction against a US IMF vote, British representative of TAG, Jan Jananayagam said: "Our law suit is vindicated by the U.S abstention. Tamil people are also grateful to the UK and France for showing their opposition to the IMF loan to Sri Lanka.
"The IMF Board’s decision to reward Sri Lanka for racism and genocide despite the opposition of the United Kingdom and others is appalling. In the guise of “development” the IMF is helping to fund ethnic cleansing and militarisation via “High security zones” of the Tamil areas. While the entire Tamil population of the region are imprisoned in concentration camps, the government has announced its intention to change the ethnic composition by financing Sinhala settlers to immigrate to the formerly Tamil areas.
"There is evidence that many of the 300 000 inmates of the camps are being used as slave labour. Under these circumstances the IMF cannot credibly assert that “free market” market conditions that are “blind to race” exist in Sri Lanka.
"While the IMF may stave off default in Sri Lanka, unconscionable actions such as this may risk further disillusionment and radicalisation of Tamil populations globally," Ms Jananayagam added.
A spokesperson for the US-based rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: “The government continues to hold displaced persons in detention camps in violation of their rights to liberty and freedom of movement, limiting their ability to communicate and talk to others about what happened in the final stages of the war.
“It prohibits aid agencies from speaking out about poor conditions in the camps and expels critics. Persons suspected of having LTTE ties have been detained incommunicado, contrary to international law, and credible reports indicate that at least some have been mistreated,” the Times reported.