21 May, 2024

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Why Should We Beg IMF? – When More Than $36 Billion To Be Recovered

By W. Vishnu Gupta

W. Vishnu Gupta

A recent visit to Sri Lanka, confirmed that it was very easy to convert Rupees into US dollars at any banking counter in the departure lounge of BIA, and it is strange in a country where people are told there is no foreign exchange to import medicine, and other essential food items until IMF gives a loan. Furthermore, it appears that there is no truth to the claims made by the government about the lack of foreign exchange because every imported luxury item that the rich has got used to during last 75 years is readily available in the market. When a Sri Lankan rich man or woman is afflicted with any life-threatening sickness or even a minor skin irritation, they freely seek treatments in Singapore, Dubai, Bangkok, or India, and they appear not to bother about the foreign exchange mantra chanted daily by the politicians including the president in the parliament and in other external forums. Obviously, a few filthy rich fellows have stashed away, specifically US dollars in offshore accounts under various pretexts. Under this background, the recent wishy-washy statement made by parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa about the loopholes in the foreign exchange management laws and the revelations of young women lawyers’ association in Colombo about the foreign currency stashed away in the offshore bank accounts by the exporters warrants further investigations. It appears every politician who entered the den of thieves and criminals, officially known as the parliament since 1952, elected and unelected presidents, and the CBSL are privy to this grand scheme of hoarding national wealth in foreign countries. The stories about alleged money laundering activities of Gamini Dissanayake’s family in Australia, Bandaranaikes in the UK, Aluthgamage in the UK, Rajapaksas in Uganda, Dubai, Seychelles and China, likewise other politicians in Singapore and the link between Ranil and Mahedran and Paskaralingam may be just the tip of the iceberg. All Central bank chiefs, particularly the political appointees of Prime Ministers and Presidents seem to have knowingly participated in the dubious act of letting the individuals and exporting companies siphon or stashed the foreign exchange that should be brought into the state coffers otherwise, for instance Panama Papers must be a hoax. According to Sunday Times of July 2022.

An investigation carried out by the Global Finance Integrity (GFI); a think tank based in Washington, USA operating with government support. Its task is to keep an eye on the export trade of countries of the world. GFI observes whether money is properly exchanged between two countries during a trade. According to its observations, between 2009-2017, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has not received more than US$ 36 billion due from exports. The money is held offshore.” 

What a catastrophe, Sri Lanka is an $81 Billion economy and more than one-third or $36 Billion is hidden in foreign countries by a selected vile bunch of businessmen supported by correspondingly vulgar political leaders with willfully designed porous legislations approved by equally disgraceful parliament of the country. No government so far has taken concrete actions to bring this mind-boggling amount of money back to Sri Lanka, but they have forced the citizen to go through untold misery by cunningly and abruptly disrupting the supply chain of medicines, medical equipment, essential foods, energy products, and other critical raw material including fertilizer. Many have died and thousands of patients are in their death throes while temporarily elected government and the president appointed by 134 MPs are threatening the state with gloom and doom scenarios and instilling fear in the psyche of citizens with the possibility of energy crisis, food crisis and health crisis. The GFI report clearly says that they publish their conclusions after researching extensively and analyzing the data of Sri Lankan customs, export registers, and import registers of countries. Hence no one should claim that the findings are false or inaccurate. For obvious reasons, Ranil and Rajapaksas have never uttered about the excesses committed by their families and business buddies responsible for hording of alleged $36 Billion in foreign countries, but it should baffle the economists and the intelligentsia, why IMF has not raised this matter reported by GFI in Washington with the present government.

Sri Lanka officially records about $1.1 -1.2 Billion export earnings per month and similarly tourism earnings should average around $400-500 million per month excluding the millions of foreign exchanges earned by somewhat slippery and controversial entities such as SLC, Avant-Garde and hundreds of currency exchange shops in Colombo and Negombo. The citizens ought to know what happens to these enormous amount of foreign exchange earnings that comes under the jurisdiction of the state. Clearly, the central bank is inept, yet should we allow a bunch of unscrupulous businessmen, politicians, and sleazy organizations to live lavishly and enjoy tamashas while rest of the country is told IMF is the only solution. Unfortunately, neither Sajith, nor AKD, the front runners of the ongoing outlandish political campaign have ever spoken about this hidden wealth. What is the rationale behind begging for $2.8 billion loan from IMF while not taking any actions to retrieve $36 billion stashed away in foreign countries by a handful of embezzlers. 

As per the Foreign Exchange Control Act of 2017, the money related to export trade should be sent back to Sri Lanka without delay within a period of six months. It is a conventional law adopted by every legally established state in the world and the central bank, reserve bank or the monetary authority of the state is held responsible for managing this inflow of foreign currency according to the laws of the state. Central Bank’s primary objective is to stabilize the currency and economy while limiting inflation. Sri Lankan CB seems to have neglected its responsibilities mainly due to political interferences of Ranil and Rajapaksas. The present chairman Nandalal and all those before him, Coomaraswamy, Cabraal, Lakshman and Mahendran have done nothing innovative so far to manage affairs of CBSL, which possess privileged control over production and distribution of money and credit for the nation. As expected Nandalal a political lackey has trivialized and questioned the findings of GFI, at the Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance meeting on January 23rd.   

“Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe has disregarded and trivialised the extent of illicit financial flows through trade mis-invoicing in instigating Sri Lanka’s ongoing foreign exchange and fiscal crisis.” 

The credibility of CBSL is tainted and highly questionable, CBSL chiefs have failed to ensure fiscal stability in Sri Lanka, bond scams and unsavory political links at the highest level do not add any credence to the policies and assurances made by politically contaminated highest monetary authority in Sri Lanka, hence one should not question the accuracy and integrity of GFI report on Sri Lanka.

Nevertheless, the state of Sri Lanka must hold these political minions responsible for not ensuring uninterrupted inflow of foreign currency (US dollars) earned through exports and other related business transactions in recent years. It is a forgone conclusion, that Nandalal, his predecessors and their political masters’ arrogant conduct and nonchalant answers to the economic and financial crisis has exacerbated the dire economic situation encountered by majority in Sri Lanka since 2019. Compared to politically independent CB chiefs in other Asian developed countries, the government cronies implanted to manage our central bank seem to carry the hallmark of economic bookworms sans practical knowledge but well versed in political trickery.   

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Latest comments

  • 6
    3

    Why Should We Beg IMF? – When More Than $36 Billion To Be Recovered.

    If recovered the president will lose vote becoming president by deception isn’t leadership. It’s fraud. And voted by defaulters for RW to president, recovery is impossible the present leaders is in cooperated to each other. Insists on sharing breeding ground for cover up there victimhood/consider themselves a victim of the negative actions

    • 2
      1

      “What a catastrophe, Sri Lanka is an $81 Billion economy and more than one-third or $36 Billion is hidden in foreign countries”
      Wow, what logic from our new economics genius Mr VG!
      81 Bn USD is what SL makes in one year. 36 Bn USD (if that is true) has been stashed away over many years. It is NOT a third of our annual earnings.
      “confirmed that it was very easy to convert Rupees into US dollars at any banking counter in the departure lounge of BIA”
      Exactly how many Rupees were you able to convert? As far as I know, even credit card transactions are severely limited, even for such matters as hotel bills.
      It is a catastrophe that people who should know better use lies to advance whatever agenda they have.

  • 7
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    Mr Gupta
    Good question indeed. Only the NPP/JVP state they will hold those responsible for mismanagement & corruption accountable but nothing about recovering the loot. UK, which has control over British Virgin Islands, Bermuda & Bahamas, is a heaven for tax dodgers & money launderers, along with Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Malta, Singapore & a few more countries but these countries are somewhat apprehensive when it comes to money laundering allegations & are likely to cooperate if investigated by a democratic country seeking justice. The alleged money syphoned out by politicians & their cronies is considerable & apart from the law & justice perspective, the country would certainly benefit at a time when it is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
    The silence on this matter by the current politicians certainly indicates a can of worms that is best left unopened. Although the average citizen is outraged, I doubt if any money will ever be recovered. I hope at least a future govt. would request the world to apply the Magnitski law against the disgraced SL politicians & their cronies, even if they are able flaunt openly in SL.

    • 1
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      Raj-UK,

      NPP/JVP stating they will hold those responsible for mismanagement & corruption accountable, means they will also recover the loot. And all those money laundering havens will surely release the loot (once they unravel the codes). UK and their associated money-havens are also stuck with a monetary quagmire, and it takes the commitment and diligence of higher powers like Biden and King Charles to do the needful. They won’t do it out of generosity of course- they will do it because the current system is failing too many countries, especially their own. Those tax havens were unavoidable mechanisms of the past, and were experimented on by global powers in the last few decades. Didn’t exactly work too well. Countries need entities like NPP/JVP to kick-start the process.

      • 2
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        ramona therese fernando
        ”Countries need entities like NPP/JVP to kick-start the process”
        OK, so NPP/JVP are the first to crack down on money laundering & political corruption, so why not make it an official commitment & state how they are going to do it? Is it expected for the public to read between the lines & make assumptions?
        Pre election promises are nothing new but if serious, it should be stated clearly in the political manifesto in their website so that everybody knows what to expect & hold them accountable if they fail to deliver.

        A promise is too vague without how, when & the costs, just like in a business plan, & no Board of Directors would accept the plan without the costs & time frame involved in the strategy. The UK Labour party in opposition has all the details & the costs involved in their strategy available for public scrutiny. Surely there are economists, business professionals & number crunchers in NPP/JVP to provide the details?

        • 1
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          Raj-UK,

          No, they won’t be first to crack down on money laundering & political corruption. Capitalistic/Semi-Capitalistic countries do that also – the successful ones.

          JVP/NPP works on the conceptual basis. Once they come into power, they will do the needful. Yet, I believe they did outline their policies very explicitly in several debating sessions during the last elections. No one exactly listened to them, did they? If they had, country wouldn’t be in this mess. Your labour party in UK has been in power before, so everyone knows what they are about. JVP/NPP has never been in power, but they have been telling us their policies for over 70 years.

          JVP/NPP being extremely authentic and transparent, do not make empty promises. Getting money back from off-shore accounts will be a hard-road ahead. Yet, they will begin the process. Current leaders won’t begin the process. That’s the difference. Current leaders will sit working on the offshoring industry, getting what they think are their slick lawyers, to make all kinds of shady deals whilst holding Damocles swords over heads of powers. That’s all they are good for. In the meantime, common man of the country has to work in perceptually escalating exhaustion for current leaders’ megalomania.

  • 4
    1

    One Roma (Gypsy) woman was arrested and produced in Court in London
    couple of years back for Begging and raising her skirt when caught by the
    police .Judge asked why begging ! The woman said , ” this is what we do
    for generations in our country for a job , Romania !

    • 2
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      Whywhy,
      It might interest you to know that the Roma, otherwise known as Gypsies, are immigrants from South Asia.

      • 1
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        Thank you O C . I was a bit aware of stories about Roma origin and
        the Indian connection but my whole point was to highlight how
        begging becomes a culture and what happens when you get into
        the culture . You are right , it is really interesting to know that they
        left India about 1500 yrs ago and started to arrive in Europe 900 yrs
        ago . And also , about 1000 yrs back , there was no India .

    • 1
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      WHYWHY,
      .
      This culture “raising skirt or sarong” as a gesture of provoking the police is common to far primitive cultures in south asia and africa.

      Extending further, africans are used to show their back instead. Primitiver you are, more uncivilized behave you. This is the nature of HOMO SAPIENS.

      The kind of culture in rural TANGALLE and hambantota (not far from Medamulana) area is more prevalent than urban colombo nearby as I heard from my friends lately. I once noticed this in negambo too. Cultural differences is the other main thing that divide 22 millions of srilankens. This I experienced sharpely in the University too.

      Those ROMA, TRAVELLERS or other gipsies are said to be coming from India. Some believe romanian gipsies we find in Germany are coming also from India.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlmpwcSQKAI

      We see also the kind of acts when I pass my vehicle in the migrant community milleau in the cities in Stuttgart, Berlin, Hamburg and other main cities. These are all human beings. This is why I always say, if Rajapaksas were civilized, our society woudl not have fallen this much deep as of today.

      • 1
        0

        leelagemalli ,

        For your information , I reported an incident to highlight a point
        and questioning the chastity of the woman involved was not my
        point !

        • 0
          0

          Thanks WW. I added just the nature of our people across our island. I was not focusing only on WOMEN in my comment.

  • 6
    2

    “The present chairman Nandalal and all those before him, Coomaraswamy, Cabraal, Lakshman and Mahendran have done nothing innovative”

    It seems these fellows were brought to disguise the illegal activities specifically, money laundering and other means used to loot the national assets, therefore how can they be innovative. All live lavishly, Mahendran in Singapore, Coomaraswamy in England, Cabraal will eventually go to some country and Nandalal will go back to Australia or whatever the place he came from. They were never expected to be innovative.

  • 3
    0

    whywhy

    You are correct our politicians are like that woman from Romania, their favorite pastime is begging in every foreign country, unbelievable they begged Bangladesh and India too.

    • 2
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      Vipuli,
      You are absolutely spot on!!!
      Beggars do NOT return the earnings from BEGGING ever, as it goes into their Savings accounts!! This is well demonstrated by various “BEGGARS in Resplendent Sri Lanka, WHO BEG BY THE DAY AND LIVE IN LUXURY BY NIGHT FROM INTEREST EARNINGS IN THEIR ABODE BY NIGHT”!!?? Why go to Romania, in the backwaters of Europe, when SL in the backwaters of South Asia is a very good poignant example by itself!!
      Examples are, aplenty in our 2600+ years of CIVILISATION AND CULTURE as reported in newspapers regularly!! The last one from Bandarawela or somewhere in hill-country (CP)!!!
      The veritable position is, SL – FOLLOWING IS OF THE TEACHINGS OF GAUTAMA, THE BUDDHA!! There appears to be misconception, enlivened, by precept to, “beg for their DAILY SUSTENANCE”, by seeking “FOR ALMS FROM THEIR FOLLOWERS” (DAYAKAS) – Buddhist ‘principle of abhorrence’ to personal wealth accumulation – ‘TANHA’ – to greater heights, by “begging” and/or becoming subservient to donors of Luxury vehicles, Benz’s and V8’s, which is principally UN- BUDDHISTIC in its element!!!???
      Add ‘beggar’ politicians, of all hues and shades, who add their skills of “BEGGING” – PROJECT LOANS for unserviceable Development LOANS of NO REMARKABLE RETURN ON INVESTMENT!!?

    • 2
      1

      Do only women from Romania beg?
      Is not your statement selectively targetting a people?
      In fairness money was only borrowed at the time.

      • 2
        0

        v
        By the way, Roma and Romanian are two different things.
        There is a lot of prejudice and persecution that the Roma have suffered across Europe for generations.

    • 2
      0

      Vipuli,
      .
      dont you know that 70% of our people behave like that ? Immediately I put my feet on BIA, each time, I become allergic not being able to believe my eyes. That is their cultre down there. ******************* 2500 years old heritage of sinhala race*************, my foot …

      They simply dont care about norms. Just look at the RALLIES of JVPrs today. On the stage, they would behave so aggressive.
      ” Lal kantha said, as to why they forcefully collected ” ID cards” of the youth and some families in 89, it was because to teach them a lession”: How dare the kind of rascals be functional like that ? Not just that, if anyone disagreed, their head and other body parts were hung on the fences of the houses ….remmeber ? how can they justify them today ?

      The wording they use to attack rivals are beyond all filth. However, they have built up a force to work in favour of them on CYBER. The very same tactics were instrumental for their GOTA s emerge from nothing.

  • 2
    0

    1959 General Election in Singapore , Lee Kwan Yu had two options before
    him . Leave the myriads of problems for the opposition to solve in their
    government and take the opposition seats or win the election and govern .
    He chose to win the election for one Honourable reason .It was the over
    overriding need to prevent the public service from going corrupt .He knew
    One Term Of An Incompetent , Corrupt Government and the damages it
    could cause , can never be put together again . So , he fought to win and
    formed the Government . Today , when we have a Prevention of Terrorism
    Act , Singapore has got Prevention of Corruption Act answerable to the
    PM who is a symbol trust in the country .

  • 2
    1

    W. Vishnu Gupta,
    You’ve put it in great perspective!

    • 2
      0

      Put what please?

  • 2
    1

    W.Vishnu Gupta

    Excellent article. Although the Sunday Times exposed the hidden USD. 36 Billions in July 2022, very little was said about it by the Politicians. Why? Why? Why? Even the Media in general and other social activists did not pay much attention to it which means the Public in general was ignorant of this HUGE Amount belonging to the country being stashed away in foreign countries at a time when the country VERY BADLY NEEDS Every Dollar it can lay its hands on.

    The Best way to publicise this matter is for the Multitude of Organisations staging Daily Protests against the Government, to carry Placards in ALL Three Languages exposing the Hidden amount of USD 36 Billions. This amount is ONLY upto 2017 and, right now, after 5 More years, it could be over USD 50 Billions.

    If we can get even 10% of the USD 36 Billions for a start, we need NOT go through the Pain and Suffering that is staring at us to get the Usd 2.9 Billions from the IMF.

    OVER TO YOU ALL the PROTESTORS.

  • 3
    0

    leelagemalli

    ” Lal kantha said, as to why they forcefully collected ” ID cards” of the youth and some families in 89, it was because to teach them a lession”:

    Thank you for reminding the people who these fellows are, I don’t understand why these fellows born out of hatred, identify so many innocent families as enemies in their political blood soaked history. So many including mine live in fear in the night including many families known to me. It appears that these guys taking advantage of the misery imposed on us by dirty politicians during last 75 years. These fellows are not different from other vile bunch despite their promises.

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