Opposition to boycott today’s meeting with IMF

International Monetary Fund - IMF logo

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has turned down President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s invitation to a meeting with a visiting IMF delegation, today.

The National People’s Power (NPP), led by the JVP, and the TNA, have also rejected the President’s invitation to today’s meeting, but TNA MP MA Sumanthiran is likely to meet the IMF delegation today, according to sources.

The Opposition Leader’s Secretary, Thasith DB Wijayagunawardene, has written to the Secretary to the President, E. M. S. B. Ekanayake that Premadasa will not attend today’s meeting with the IMF delegates. He has said in his letter: “The Staff Level Agreement with the IMF was reached on September 01, 2022, while Executive Board Approval was obtained on March 20, 2023.

“Throughout this period, the Opposition consistently requested on the floor of Parliament that the Government should share with the Opposition the contents of the agreement. The Opposition did so in the national interest because, at that time, constructive suggestions could have been taken into account, and the Opposition was eager to contribute their ideas and insights to ensure an agreement which would confer optimal benefits on our country.

“Regrettably, however, the government persistently refused to take Parliament into its confidence, and insisted on handling the negotiations unilaterally.

“In marked contrast, the government later decided to place the agreement before Parliament for debate, and even wanted a vote taken on it.

“The Leader of the Opposition and the Members of the Opposition have emphatically expressed their disagreement to the government’s initiative in imposing a disproportionate burden on the Employees’ Provident Fund, in flagrant violation of the norms of social equity. In the name of ‘optimization’ the brunt of the national debt has to be borne by sections of the community least able to bear the burden.

“As far as primary bond holders and inter national sovereign bond holders are concerned, there appears to be hardly any measurable progress, despite repeated assurances that agreement is imminent.

“In these circumstances, the Leader of the Opposition is of the view that the invitation

extended to him is clearly disingenuous and lacking in good faith. Therefore, the leader of the Opposition wants to convey the message that he will not attend the meeting.

“However, he wishes to reiterate that he and the Members of the Opposition are at all times prepared to engage with representatives of the IMF from the standpoint of protection of the national interest, as they have readily done in the past.”

NPP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath has said that his party will not attend today’s meeting.

State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe, addressing the media yesterday in Anuradhapura, lambasted the Opposition for its decision to boycott today’s meeting. He said the Opposition should act responsibly while the government was trying to enable the country to come out of the present economic crisis.

(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)