88 Chemmany Road, Nallur, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Tel. +94-71-534-6648, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, 20 April, 2022.
To: The IMF and India through:
Mr. Tubagus Feridhanusetyawan, IMF Resident Representative in Colombo
Mr. Gopal Baglay, High Commissioner for India (email@example.com)
I am writing from Jaffna, rather disappointed and disenchanted with the IMF and the Government of India for trying to bail out our horrid government as detailed by the Hindustan Times (which I believe to be a respected Indian newspaper):
Owing to the government’s mismanagement and corruption, my diesel vehicle is grounded, there is no cooking gas at home, and my wife manages to cook with our rice cooker when there is electricity. We are not set up for cooking with firewood as a few of our neighbours are. Two days ago I searched desperately for cooking gas all over Jaffna. At the end of my failed search, I had almost run out of petrol for my scooter but fortunately found a petrol shed that dispensed limited petrol for Rs. 500. With that limited supply, I am not sure if I should take my wife on the scooter in her wedding sari for a wedding this morning, wondering if today’s hartal will hinder that ceremony.
Our government, despite the vote of 6.9 million communalists, has at last lost its support among the Sinhalese masses. (I am not sure of the many die-hard Tamil professionals in Jaffna who voted for him in the name of stability).
To the point, if the Hindustan story is true as I believe it is, do you really encourage loans to a corrupt regime? As I see our Ministers’ mansions, and their wedding receptions and parties, how they lavishly entertain visitors, and their sports cars, racehorses and foreign hounds, I am convinced that the epithet “Mr. 10 Per Cent” is true of nearly all Ministers under the Rajapaksas, present and former. I am certain they do not confine their expense accounts to their government salaries. Even British and American politicians on far higher salaries do not live their lifestyle. If they do, they do so in secret because they have a sense of shame that is absent in Sri Lanka (actually corrupt politicians were admired here when they stole and lived well). It is also because western law enforcement agencies are not so easily influenceable as is our Attorney General’s Department. Here, moreover, so many people charged with corruption after painstaking investigations are let off by our pliant judiciary in which I have little confidence or trust for that matter. And then the poor investigating officer is charged!
Do you really want to put more money in these filthy hands for which the next generation will pay the price? Are you proposing to get more money into their hands to siphon off, while we will be left to repay the loans at a point when we are already unable to repay our loans?
Three men with good credentials in the world of finance (of whom one is my second cousin) have foolishly come forward to help Sri Lanka secure loans from the IMF at India’s urging. They may be successful. However, if they are successful and our corrupt political leaders put their filthy fingers in the pie as they surely will, can these three have any chance of stopping it? No way. They have put themselves in a bad situation where they are helping to put us more in debt.
No loans should be given to Sri Lanka, not even for debt restructuring, until we have an accountable government that will not shoot people exercising their democratic right to protest as happened yesterday (19 April, 2022).
Please do not be on the side of killers and thieves. Speak up for the suffering people of Sri Lanka. Do not give loans in our name and put them in the hands of those who have already stolen so much from us.
Do not use our suffering as an excuse. We will bear our present suffering, remembering that if the loans you give are also stolen, the next generation, our children and their children, will be in a bigger fix than that in which we already are.
It is my prayer that if you do not come forward to save this regime, the growing chaos will make the regime flee and help us form a new accountable government. That is our primary need.
Was it not Winston Churchill who promised “blood, toil, tears and sweat” rather than relief in the British Parliament in 1940 as the people of Britain were facing untold suffering from the Luftwaffe’s bombings? It is our moment now to face suffering. It is time for us also to be ready without giving up the next generation through more loans for our politicians to live off, just so we may have cooking gas and vehicle fuel.
No loans please until we have accountability.
Former Member of the Election Commission, and of the University Grants Commission