IMF loan(ed) it again!

26 Jul

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has done it again by giving a 2.6 billion dollar loan to the Sri Lanka government despite the latter’s ongoing persistent human rights violations.

According to the newswire AFP, the loan, known as ‘Stand-By Arrangement… is equivalent to 1.65 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an IMF asset that is based on a basket of currencies — the dollar, yen, euro and pound — and calculated daily’. Approximately 322.2 million will be given to the government in a first installment with the remainder ‘subject to quarterly reviews’.

That the IMF sees itself fit to loan such an extraordinary amount to a government dogged with human rights violations is beyond belief and downright irresponsible. But what should we expect from an international financial organisation that has propped up authoritarian regimes from Suharto to Marcos?

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has issued a statement urging the IMF to ‘insist that the government of Sri Lanka address significant post-conflict human rights abuses as part of the approval for a US$2.5 billion stand-by loan’.

Their concerns are not unfounded. In an AP article dated 18 July, it was discovered that international aid was used by the Sri Lanka government to keep refugees in what can be cynically termed as concentration camps. The government has also made aid workers ‘sign agreements promising not to make “public comments” about camp conditions without authorization. It asked the Red Cross, one of the more critical groups, to “scale down” its operations’. AP journalists have also been barred from entering the camps. HRW estimates that more than 280,000 displaced people are estimated to be held in such camps. While the UN has alleged that at least 7,000 have been killed in the first four months of the conflict, Times Online has reached a much more sombre figure of 20,000.

Shame on you, IMF.

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