UN alarmed over SL’s record high inflation

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The United Nations’ independent Experts on 20 July expressed alarm about record high inflation, rising commodity prices, power shortages, the crippling fuel crisis and the economic collapse in Sri Lanka and said the crisis has had a serious impact on the enjoyment of human rights for the entire population. “Time and again, we have seen the grave systemic repercussions a debt crisis has had on countries, exposing deep structural gaps of the global financial system, and affecting the implementation of human rights,” said Attiya Waris, UN independent expert on foreign debt and human rights.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer Hamdy also tweeted that the UN acknowledges the constitutional transfer of power to a new President. Now is the time for all stakeholders to engage in broad and inclusive consultations to resolve the current economic crisis and the grievances of the people. She said the UN independent experts urge humanitarian agencies, financial institutions, private lenders and other countries to immediately come to Sri Lanka’s aid as the country grapples with unprecedented political turmoil and the debt crisis curtailing human rights.

Earlier this year, as part of the continuous engagement with the authorities, UN experts urged the Sri Lankan Government to guarantee the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and expression during peaceful protests as thousands of people gathered in front of the President’s office in Colombo, demanding his resignation over corruption and mishandling of the economic crisis. On 9 May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet condemned the violence which erupted across the country, killing at least seven people.

As foreign reserves dried up, unable to make interest payments on the loans, the country defaulted on the debt of USD 51 billion in May 2022. After suspending all debt payments, the government took steps to restructure the country’s debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In June, IMF staff noted that significant progress had been made on the staff level arrangement on the Extended Fund Facility. “Any response towards mitigating the economic crisis should have human rights at its core, including in the context of negotiation with the IMF,” Waris said.

(SRM)