21 July, 2024

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Sri Lanka: IMF / World Bank – Systemic Reforms Needed

Discussions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Annual Meetings that open in Marrakesh, Morocco, on October 9, 2023, should prioritize systemic reforms to align policies with human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing a video to illustrate the concerns. The changes are needed because current policies are compounding poverty and inequality.

The five-minute video features Shanthi, a woman living in Sri Lanka who is struggling to cope with both the economic crisis in the country and the loan conditions attached to a $3 billion bailout from the IMF that increased the cost of fuel and electricity and doubled value-added taxes. Sri Lanka, which defaulted on its debt in 2022, is the canary in the coal mine as dozens of governments are in or near debt distress, the IMF has said.

“Millions upon millions of people around the world have stories like Shanthi,” said Sarah Saadoun, senior economic justice researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch. “IMF bailout conditions make lives already upended by global inflation and other economic challenges even harder.”

Shanthi’s electricity was cut when she was no longer able to pay her bill and she now relies entirely on others for food and other basic necessities. She lost critical income from a government social protection program that had been providing benefits since 1994 after the government overhauled it in line with a requirement in the IMF program, with World Bank support. She has yet to receive a response to her application for a new program that she submitted in July.

Shanthi’s story is an example of how IMF loans to dozens of countries, affecting over one billion people, frequently push governments to cut spending and raise regressive taxes in ways that harm rights, as a new Human Rights Watch report has documented. Human Rights Watch also found that the IMF’s efforts to address these impacts are largely ineffective.

To ensure economic recovery that best advances rights in the short and long term, the IMF and governments should halt austerity policies that threaten rights. They should ensure that spending on health, education, and social security meet, at a minimum, international benchmarks as a percentage of GDP and national budgets.

The video also demonstrates the shortcomings of the World Bank’s approach to social security, which in many cases, including Sri Lanka, works in tandem with IMF programs with the intention of cushioning their impact. Despite a commitment to promote universal social protection, the World Bank often funds programs that are means-tested, for which eligibility hinges on income, assets, or narrow poverty indicators. Research shows that these programs suffer from high error ratescorruption, and social mistrust, while missing the chance to build social cohesion and new social contracts anchored in solidarity and rights.

On October 4, forty-three human rights and economic justice organizations began an initiative, under the hashtags #RightToSocialSecurity and #UniversalSocialSecurity, urging governments and international financial institutions to commit to universal social security, which provides benefits to everyone at various times in their life course as part of a human rights approach to the economy, and end policies that have been failing hundreds of millions of people.

“The IMF and World Bank recognize that people need support, but then they promote narrow means-tested programs that—both by design and due to chronically high error rates—exclude many people who are struggling,” Saadoun said. “The IMF and World Bank need to revise their policies to support universal social security.” (HRW)

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Latest comments

  • 24
    34

    Why talk of IMF when our President says he does not like the Western attitude !

    What is he referring to ? The attitude that rejects a man who is bringing a bad smell to this country by being an unelected President ! Not only unelected but a man who was defeated soundly at the last general elections. Now he is in a deep conspiracy with the Rajapkse family to maintain their rule.

    When RW was recommending that we go to the IMF in his all knowing way, he even mentioned some names of high officials at the IMF as people we should talk to ( these are the tactics he uses to retain leadership of the UNP by implying to the handful of fools remaining in that party that he has a direct line to Western leaders)

    luckily for us Western guys are not unprincipled, they look at the facts before they act. They know what kind of a hypocritical failure Ranil really is.

    Now Ranil does not like Western attitude ! ! This is a man who runs to New York, Paris and London at a drop of a hat ! He with his wife attended the queens funeral and the coronation later. He was the only leader at the funeral who had not been endorsed by his own people.

    Either he is mad or he is a crook. You decide

    • 9
      0

      Ranil is a politician: a Sri Lankan politician!

      He does it wearing western-attire ………. Mahinda does it wearing Sinhala-attire …….. both are cross-dressers.

      Dressed for success.

      Dressed for initial success but eventual certain failure: Lankan style.

      Some are focused only on the Cardinal’s wardrobe.

      Little things giveaway ……… where Lanka is heading ……..

      Someone went over Niagara Falls in a barrel …… ordinary Lankans do it every day without much fanfare ……..

    • 4
      6

      An effective article with a useful video to back up the points made that have been made.
      .
      Who deepthi silva is remains a mystery to me, but her comments make sense. How is it that as I type this out 22 have seen red, and 14, green? Why don’t they give us their reason
      .
      A message to nimal fernando who keeps making reference to my “blindness”. No, I can see both distance and monitor much more clearly than earlier, but I’ve been advised not to sped too much time actually reading. This eye cost 150K, but I think that I will return to Dr Saliya Pathirana for the right eye.
      .
      I now learn that had I been ready to spend as much as a million on the two eyes, I’d be able read fine print also. I wasn’t told that probably because only a small percentage of over 70s do much reading.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V) who returned to Bandarawela two days ago.

      • 7
        0

        S M ,

        Dear SM ,

        1 . Monara Kalewatte , Sirigala , Monaragala , A father of 31 was
        arrested on a complaint of his wife that her 4 months old
        BABY was sexually assaulted by her Husband , Baby’s father .
        2 . Mahindananda Aluthgamage was very thrilled to reveal in
        parliament that Sajith’s mother had requested two mosuqito
        coils from the President secretariat .
        3 . A tree on Duplication road , Colombo-3 , fell on a bus and
        killed 5 and injured a dozen . Within a stone throw from the
        Temples tree .
        4 . Murder of 3 Srilankans in Malaysia was motivated by money ,
        report from Malaysian Cops .

        My question is , What kind of a country are we living in and what
        was going round their heads when they were begging for
        independence from their Masters ? Enough you ate , now we eat ?

        • 2
          0

          WW,
          .
          Thanks for the info. I wonder why the responsible authorities did not consider the danger of the tree, which was already leaning about 30 degrees. Look, the city council was turning a blind eye.
          I think there are enough workers, but they are not doing anything in the responsible areas of the council.
          Only the innocent are often caught in such tragedies. I am now afraid to use the Lankan transport systems when going to stay in Colombo for a few days. Last July I saw many evils there. People are not aware of anything. Today may be the struggle for survival and the pressure on it is so great that they forget almost everything automatically.

        • 6
          0

          WW, what kind of a country we are living in ??? 1) a guy who is bankrupt some how manages to get a loan for his survival and then blames the the bank for being bankrupt . 2) Corrupt politician now blame Constitutional Council for not curtailing corruption. 3) at the time of election many including Ranil will come back stating ” if only I had …….” ??? would have turned Lanka first world. 4) Hoping there will not be another Easter before elections 5) there are Millions like Shanthi who voted for Mafia Family and may again vote for them to get re-elected. 6) SC says our fraudulent govt put Shani and Mendis in prison for doing their job. They pressured Mendis to turn against Shani. Now SC ordered state to pay Mendis , one Million LKR as compensation. 7) Our heard goes “GAGA” when ever our govts claim ” poor us , we are the victims 8) Ranil plays Rajapaksa’s card, to win few disgruntled SLPP votes. 9) Our answer to all problems ” commissions for omissions . . . . ” SW threatened judge in public and in the parliament, the judge gave the reasons for fleeing the country, why the F… do we need a commission ?????

        • 5
          0

          whywhy

          ” . A tree on Duplication road , Colombo-3 , fell on a bus and
          killed 5 and injured a dozen . Within a stone throw from the
          Temples tree .”

          According to media the police wanted to arrest the driver and conductor. Why? I have no idea. Did the driver and conductor parked the bus in front of the tree and fell it on the bus deliberately on Ranil’s instruction (financed by Tamil Diaspora)?

          • 2
            0

            Funny isn’t it. The initial knee jerk reaction of Lankan police is to find a helpless culprit to calm down the angry public. Reportedly the driver and conductor are reporting daily to their higher ups for grief counseling.

          • 3
            0

            N V ,

            This happened after the Berlin DW Circus . Martin just missed it .
            Anything is possible in the paradise NV . Did you ever expect
            the Zero Vote Ranil to be your president ? ” Did the driver and
            conductor park the bus in front of the tree and fell it on the bus
            deliberately on Ranil’s instruction (financed by Tamil Diaspora) ” ?
            N V , I am on this forum well over fifteen years , you will never
            find a piece of my writing that involves Tamil Diaspora or any
            other Diaspora . I think you should put this question either to
            Weeravansa or Gammanpila , both Ranil’s best friends now !
            For me , it is a very serious issue of gross negligence of whatever
            authorities responsible for the tree by the sides of the roads . Yes ,
            it could have been your Buddy Ranil on whose car the tree could
            have fallen or felled according to your imagination ! You want to
            let those responsible for city maintenance walk away from their
            responsibility ? It is about five deaths , on a busy commercial
            road , where , not only the Temple Trees , many Foreign missions
            are located nearby . It is not about one man Ranil , it is about the
            official residence of our head of state and the safety of its
            neighbourhood . I feel really sorry for you , the way you looked at
            it N V .

            • 1
              0

              WW , Native is just cynical
              I’m sure he will be the first to agree with you.

              • 2
                0

                chiv ,

                Thanks chiv . I honestly enjoyed his sarcasm first and
                wanted to add some weight anyway . I know he is
                neutral .

      • 3
        1

        SM,
        I pray you stay neutral and study what Deepthi Silva says on CT, just because she opposes RW doesn’t mean her comments make sense. She never provided a coherent counter to any article on CT.

        Your kind of comments force us to pay attention to your profile and see how you taught school kids.. I’m speechless.
        :
        OC, NV Add kindly your thoughts on what our SINHALA_MAN has posted here. It will further help CT readers.
        :
        Sometimes I feel that the Sinhalese man is standing on top of your little head even if you are wearing a “saramak”. Am I wrong?

      • 4
        0

        “No, I can see”

        Can you see the hammer and sickle outside the JVP headquarters? ……. If not, you’re still blind.


        “spend as much as a million on the two eyes”

        Eye-surgeons earn $10 -20k or more on days they operate. ……… Saving people’s eyesight is big business ……. only Jesus and Native do it for free …… Buddha has been an abject failure in Lanka …..

    • 1
      0

      “The attitude that rejects a man who is bringing a bad smell to this country by being an unelected President !”
      Whether elected on unelected, Ranil Wickremasingha or Gotabaya or Mahinda Rajapaksas they have the same face and attitude to cheat Buddhist Sinhala People. They have two faces to people but only one face to Western and Eastern Countries or leaders. They only need their own benefits and power whether it is western or Eastern countries and Leaders. Now Ranil and Rajapaksas need power that needs them to show that they are anti – western in pubic to get the votes from Buddhist Sinhala people. Now they become hero’s of Buddhist Sinhala whether they are in dying on hunger.

  • 7
    0

    For how long are we going to find fault and accuse the political leaders and their respective affiliates of BUNGLING the country’s Governing affairs thus bringing MISERY to the large majority who have trusted and voted them to power? Now, isn’t ENOUGH is ENOUGH?

    What is the ALTERNATIVE we (the majority of suffering) the PEOPLE have to turn to? Two things:

    (1) Make a CHANGE and DISCARD all the FAILED politicians we are complaining about and found to be CRIMINALS. The NEWCOMERS must be BONDED to honor and pledge to make the changes and any FAILURE must be dealt with seriously including RESTITUTION of LOSSES and JAIL TERMS.
    (2) COMPELL all the “FINANCIERS” (IMF; World Bank, Governments & Other Doners and Civil Organizations) to STRICTLY lay down and FOLLOW/AUDIT procedures and BRING TO BOOK all those (including politicians; bureaucrats & social workers of all types and categories) who have and are MISMANAGING, WASTING and LOOTING the funds, PERSONALLY liable and RECOUPE all losses from them. If FAILED to ACCOUNT for and make GOOD the losses get ALL of them to rot in jail.

    The “16 Point” program of IMF could be a GUIDE but not enough of a deterrent unless backed by HEAVY penalties I have briefly stated above.

  • 6
    0

    If not backed with DETTERENTS, our CROOKS will always find ways and means of escaping through the cracks. They are very SMART at it and we see it happening on a daily basis.
    All the “Financiers” I mentioned above had “BENEVOLENT SOCIAL UPLIFTMENT” of the PEOPLE as the main CREITERIOR, of “LOANING” funds, they should have MONITORED (an Input/Output analysis) the spending on all the “PROJECTS” that the Governments (from around 1970s to now) have undertaken, we would never have reached this calamitous state. In that sense, THEY too are responsible for this mess. If NOT, how are they not responsible for their own country’s (people’s) funds misused, wasted, and looted till the time arrived to say: “We cannot pay your loans”?
    It is now meaningless to say: ” Fix the sale price to match the cost” (e.g. electricity, water rates, gas prices, etc.). How logical to ask people to pay “Matched Prices” without generating sufficient personal “INCOME” to pay? Have those FUNDS loaned generated INCOME (the so-called GNI/GDP) by investing in REVENU generating projects to increase our National Wealth? So goes with that “16 points” formula that the IMF is launching. It was too LATE, but better late than never.

  • 7
    1

    WHO SAID RANIL DO NOT LIKE WESTERN ATTITUDE.HE IS ALWAYS DRESSED IN WESTERN STYLE COAT AND SUIT HOW ABOUT THIS DOUBLE GAME.

  • 2
    2

    Borrowing from lenders who are dead certain that these monies will be swindled and brought back to their countries.

  • 10
    19

    “Don’t have that Western attitude ” ,” Don’t try to corner me “

    Is there any Western leader who has remained in politics after losing so many times, and have been PM 6 times ?

    How many of Ranil followers are dual citizens in Western countries ? Enjoying all Western gifts, educating their children in the West, taking the maximum from the West having contributed nothing towards the West ? Parasites both in the West and their own poor country-sucking everything possible from Sri Lanka, including free travel, big appointments, ambassadorships, chairmanships but in reality living in the West ! Every cent they earn in Sri Lanka ends in the West( commissions, bribes, allowances)

    The suffering people of this country have rejected Ranil and the UNP completely. They did not win a single seat in parliament. But these old Royalists and other deviants are still tormenting 23 million victims !

  • 8
    1

    Before blaming or trying to find fault with IMF and the World Bank, until today what action has the Sri Lankan government taken to bring before the law those politicians and the Ministry Secretaries who stole and facilitated bribery and corruption? Even after Ranil Rajapakse who became
    Ranil Weerawansa during the DW TV interview has not taken any action to curtail bribery and corruption. He claims that he cannot increase taxes, yes it’s correct, in that case, what should he do? Should he not curtail expenses? Under his rule, those UNP politicians who were kicked out of the Parliament by the voters are today running the country and in addition, Ranil Weerawansa has built a mega cabinet and a large State Minister cader, do we need so many? .Should he not cut costs and show IMF and the world that Sri Lanka is on a correct path to recovery? The other elephant in the room is laws curtailing Freedom of Speech and rights provided in the counstituion to the citizen

  • 5
    1

    Before blaming or trying to find fault with IMF and the World Bank, until today what action has the Sri Lankan government taken to bring before the law those politicians and the Ministry Secretaries who stole and facilitated bribery and corruption? Even after Ranil Rajapakse who became
    Ranil Weerawansa during the DW TV interview has not taken any action to curtail bribery and corruption. He claims that he cannot increase taxes, yes it’s correct, in that case, what should he do? Should he not curtail expenses? Under his rule, those UNP politicians who were kicked out of the Parliament by the voters are today running the country and in addition, Ranil Weerawansa has built a mega cabinet and a large State Minister cader, do we need so many? .Should he not cut costs and show the IMF and the world that Sri Lanka is on the correct path to recovery? The other elephant in the room is laws curtailing Freedom of Speech and rights provided in the constitution to the citizens!

  • 1
    0

    Buddhist 1 ,
    Third President of the US , A Lawyer , Architect , Diplomat and a Philosopher
    Thomas Jefferson said : ” The Two Enemies of People are Criminals and
    Government , So , Let Us Tie the Second Down with the Chains of the
    Constitution So the Second Will Not Become the Legalised Version of the First ” .
    We now have to take it serious that The Second is becoming the legalised
    version of the first in every step of the way in our country . Germany allowed
    Ranil to address 6.9 million of Mahinda Weerawansa Combo Base .

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