Sri Lanka approached the IMF on 15th March 2022.
Since then, there have been regular assurances to the public by the IMF and the Government about a “staff level agreement” being finalized very soon. At various times, ordinary Sri Lankans have been assured that such an agreement would be reached within two months or so, and that thereafter the disbursement of funds from the IMF would follow.
Sri Lankans have also been led to believe that all of Sri Lanka’s problems would then be solved and the economy would start to become vibrant once again.
In the meantime however, there has been no tangible progress other than a highly damaging and controversial foreign debt default, sky rocketing prices, astronomical interest rates and aggravated shortages. These outcomes are confirmed on the daily basis whenever anyone reads the newspapers.
Now, after 5 1/2 months, there is once again a fresh assurance of a staff level agreement by September 2022, and a possible funds disbursement after another 6 months.
In the meantime, all “bridging finance” continues to be stopped and NOT A CENT is forthcoming. All traditional bilateral funding sources have completely dried up. All foreign funded projects have been stopped.
Sri Lanka is on a “hand to mouth” beggarly mode of existence, with sporadic announcements of some charity or another giving some grant, causing further humiliation to the devastated Sri Lankan people.
But, now, even more importantly, another vital question arises. What’s in this elusive and unknown “staff level agreement”? Has anyone seen it? Has anyone been able to evaluate and discuss it?
If Sri Lankans are going to place their entire future and fate on this so-called staff level agreement, shouldn’t they at least know what’s in it? What are they are getting into? What is the country going to commit? What are the sacrifices that would have to be made in the future?
In the interest of good governance and transparency, the IMF and the Government must reveal the main clauses of this impending economic plan and the government’s committments to the country.
It is only then that the experts, professionals, politicians and even the simple people of the country could examine these clauses and understand what’s in store for them in the short as well as a long term. Unless that’s done IMMEDIATELY, and thereby knowing the committments and conditions, it would be useless to know about these matters AFTER it has been finalized. By then, it would be TOO LATE, as the damage would have already been done.