Photo courtesy of Newscutter
I am writing from Jaffna, rather disappointed and disenchanted with the IMF and the Government of India for trying to bail out our horrid government as detailed by the Hindustan Times.
Owing to the government’s mismanagement and corruption, my diesel vehicle is grounded, there is no cooking gas at home and my wife manages to cook with our rice cooker when there is electricity. We are not set up for cooking with firewood as a few of our neighbours are. Two days ago I searched desperately for cooking gas all over Jaffna. At the end of my failed search I had almost run out of petrol for my scooter but fortunately found a shed that dispensed limited petrol for Rs. 500. With that limited supply I am not sure if I should take my wife on the scooter in her sari for a wedding, wondering if today’s hartal will hinder the ceremony.
In this hardship, a YouTube production of a Tamil from France gave me relief and a rare chance to smile. His sister in Sri Lanka had been pestering him for electrical items, which he duly provided. He was now hunting in French stores for a mortar and pestle imported from Jaffna to send back to Jaffna because his sister could not use the gadgets he had sent her from France without electricity.
Our government, despite the vote of 6.9 million people, has at last lost the support of the Sinhalese masses.
Should the IMF and India really encourage loans to a corrupt regime? As I see our ministers’ mansions, the lavish wedding receptions and parties, sports cars, racehorses and foreign hounds, I am convinced that the description “Mr. 10 Per Cent” is true of nearly all ministers under the Rajapaksas, present and former. I am certain they do not confine their expense accounts to their government salaries. Even British and American politicians on far higher salaries do not have their lifestyles. If they do, they do so in secret because they have a sense of shame that is absent in Sri Lanka – actually corrupt politicians were admired here when they stole and lived well. It is also because western law enforcement agencies are not so easily influenceable as is our Attorney General’s Department. Here, moreover, so many people charged with corruption after painstaking investigations are let off by our pliant judiciary and Attorney General’s Department; I have little confidence or trust in either. And then the poor investigating officer is charged by the compliant Attorney General’s Department.
Do the IMF and India really want to put more money in these unclean hands for which the next generation will pay the price? Are they proposing to get more money to siphon off while we will be left to repay the loans at a point when we are already unable to repay our loans?
Three men with good credentials in the world of finance have foolishly come forward to help Sri Lanka secure loans from the IMF at India’s urging. They may be successful. However, if they are successful and our corrupt political leaders put their fingers in the pie as they surely will, can these three have any chance of stopping it? They have put themselves in a bad situation where they are helping to put us more in debt.
No loans should be given to Sri Lanka, not even for debt restructuring, until we have an accountable government that will not shoot people exercising their democratic right to protest.
Please do not be on the side of killers and thieves. Speak up for the suffering people of Sri Lanka. Do not give loans in our name and put them in the hands of those who have already stolen so much from us.
I tell India and IMF, do not use our suffering as an excuse to support this regime and let them off the pressure brought to bear by our mass protests. We will accept our present suffering, remembering that if the loans you give are also stolen by our leaders, the next generation, our children and their children, will be in a bigger fix than we already are.
If India and the IMF do not come forward to save this regime, the growing chaos will make the regime flee and help us form a new accountable government. That is our primary need.
Was it not Winston Churchill who promised “blood, toil, tears and sweat” rather than relief in the British Parliament in 1940 as the people of Britain were facing untold suffering from the Luftwaffe’s bombings? It is our moment now to face suffering. It is time for us to be ready without giving up the next generation through more loans for our politicians to live off just so we have cooking gas, food and fuel.
No loans please until we have a government that represents us and evinces accountability.