Govt. open to proposals from parties opposing IMF bailout

(From the Daily FT)

The Government yesterday said it was open to alternative proposals by parties who oppose the decision to seek a financial bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Cabinet Co-Spokesman said yesterday. 

“Critics of the decision to seek IMF support must offer alternatives, rather than just opposing,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena said in response to a query from journalists at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday.

On Monday, independent MP Vasudva Nanayakkara who is also the leader of the Democratic Left Front (DLF) said the group of independent MPs that he represents cannot support the Government, citing President Ranil Wickremasinghe as only a caretaker President who operates as per the IMF framework.

“For the first time Sri Lanka defaulted on foreign debt repayment and cases have been filed against the country internationally for delayed repayments. This is the reality. If someone thinks the crisis can be solved by kicking out international support, that is not practical,” Gunawardena stressed.

The Minister also noted that Sri Lanka had sought financial support from the IMF on 16 previous occasions, but due to non-compliance to recommended economic reforms, the country is what it is today.

“Party and political agendas aside, one factor we must all understand is that international trade cannot be avoided. Irrespective of who is in power, without imports and exports a country cannot operate. Sri Lanka is a member State of the IMF. As a member, when we face issues in the balance of payments (BoP), it is normal to seek help at an international level,” Minister Gunawardena explained.

He claimed if politicians and parties can offer an alternative proposal with their knowledge, the Government can consider them. 

“With the little knowledge I have in economics, a country cannot operate without international trade and support,” he said.

The Minister also said Sri Lanka hired internationally recognised financial specialists who are experts in the field of debt restructuring and legal advocacy to assist.