Nobody including China should get special deal at IMF talks – US Ambassador

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka called the entire creditor should be treated equitably and comparably at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiations. “The level playing field should be for everybody and nobody including China gets a special deal.  We just all want a level playing field,” she said.

Envoy’s views were based on the debt restructuring programme where China was also requested to do the same. “All countries including China should really step in and provide help and assistance to Sri Lanka”.

She further added, “It should not just be Western countries or just Japan.  So again, this is a time when all countries should consider what they can give assistance-wise, but also the creditor countries at the IMF all need to be supportive of the tough negotiations that must be done in the coming months. And that will be closely monitored and watched as the debt negotiators and the legal advisers have these discussions with each of their creditors including not just countries but private bondholders”. 

The US Ambassador further noted the option for Sri Lanka is to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “I do think IMF is the only option for Sri Lanka to get out of its current economic crisis, but that’s not the United States or just me believing that. I think Sri Lankans believe that. I think the international community, economists around the world,” she told local journalists at her official residence on 7 July.

Everybody has been talking about this for the past several years, she said adding that Sri Lanka needs to get its economic house in order and go to the IMF.  “And we’ve heard from Sri Lankan former ministers and current ministers saying that Sri Lanka should have gone earlier, sooner, to address this issue. This is not just a concern or a recommendation from the United States alone, or Japan and India.  European countries, many countries have really called upon the steps needed.  And remember that you know, the IMF debt restructuring programme, many of the things that they are recommending in order to get assistance, these are things that it’s in the good interest of Sri Lanka’s economy, the things that they should take ownership in and do anyways because it benefits the people, for instance, bringing more transparency into the debt-structuring process.  That’s something Sri Lanka shouldn’t do just because the IMF recommends it but it’s actually good for the country.  Now the measures, as they get implemented, will be tough. 

There will be some tough measures and tough decisions that the Sri Lankan Government is going to have to take.  And I think the IMF and we as bilateral partners all want to make sure that as these steps are taken, the social safety net, the safety net for the most vulnerable and the poor are also addressed.  And as a major shareholder and voting partner at the IMF, the US and their Paris Club partners I think we’re all aligned on this.  We want to support the reform steps so, that Sri Lanka can get its economy back in order,” she added.   

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan