Before I speak may I record our condolences to the family of the youth who was shot dead by the police yesterday in Rambukkana. I saw a message from the President via twitter, in which he says “I urge all to refrain from violence as they protest”.
Now I have not seen any protesters indulging in violence. It has been only the police who have used excessive force which is quite blatant, and that has now resulted in the death of one person. Death of only one person is confirmed. The fate of few others is not known.
Now why are these people protesting? These people are protesting because the government has failed them. The president has failed them. And in saying that they are very specific about a few matters When they say go home, they are saying: return our money and go. Return our money and go home.
There is good reason why they are saying that. I also saw a message that says that the discussions with the IMF is at an early stage. The loan programme is at an early stage. And that any deal would require adequate assurances that the island country’s debts can be put on a sustainable path. Now this debt sustainability is a huge issue, because you have not rescheduled the debts. That should have happened quite some time ago, before those became due.
Now you have gone for an IMF programme and there is no debt sustainability. For IMF to assist you, you have to not only have political stability, but also debt sustainability. Now if these two are not done there is no remedy. People are crying out for justice; people are asking when will this end. It is going to get worse.
We know even with the IMF facility, even with the program that is successful, its going to get worse for a while. But now there is no assurance that is going to be successful, the way it’s going.
I want to also make a another appeal to the International Monetary Fund: given that the rulers who have robed this country are still in the saddle – they are still in the saddle – they are refusing to go. Despite the people in an unprecedented way in this country demonstrating and staying and requiring them to go, they are stubbornly refusing to go. Given that fact that when IMF considers the Rapid Finance Instrument, now that’s the first thing that’ll be given, when they consider the rapid finance instrument, they must make it conditional.
A very strict condition must be imposed that this money that is given does not go into the Rajapaksa pockets. That it must go directly to the people, directly to the poor, for medicine, for basic food, for poor welfare. And that poor welfare programmes are also designed presently in a way to enrich corrupt politicians. Now that must be avoided. So this specific request to the IMF that when you consider the rapid finance instrument, and we need that, please ensure, please attach it to conditions, that’ll ensure that it’ll go directly to the people.
(Excerpts from Hon. M.A.Sumanthiran M.P’s Speech made in Parliament on 20-04-2022)