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Government Commits to Transparency: Agrees to Release IMF Technical Reports to Opposition

March 11, 2024 3:24 pm

Sri Lanka

In a significant move towards transparency, the Sri Lankan government has agreed to release International Monetary Fund (IMF) technical assistance reports to the opposition, according to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran. Speaking to reporters after a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, Sumanthiran stated that the opposition can only decide on supporting the IMF program after analyzing these reports.

The meeting, attended by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and other government officials, focused on discussions about the IMF program. Sumanthiran, the only opposition member present at the meeting, highlighted the lack of transparency and expressed concerns that most economic reform measures disproportionately impact the country’s poor and vulnerable.

During the meeting, Sumanthiran raised questions about the lack of transparency in the recommendations made by the IMF, emphasizing the absence of published technical assistance reports that serve as the analytical basis for these recommendations. He cited an example of revenue increase, questioning why the Withholding Tax rate wasn’t immediately raised to boost revenue.

The parliamentarian pointed out that, instead, the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate was increased to 18%, affecting all citizens, particularly the poor. He also highlighted 15 prior actions identified that were supposed to be completed by February 2024 but remained unfulfilled, with the government citing extensions received in discussions with the IMF.

The key breakthrough came regarding the technical assistance reports provided by the IMF to the government. Sumanthiran stated that the government agreed to release these reports to him and any opposition party leader upon request. This step, he emphasized, is crucial for the opposition to make an informed decision about supporting the IMF program.

“As it is, we are unable to support the IMF program primarily for a lack of transparency and also for the reason that most of these measures are impacting on the poor and vulnerable and are letting the rich and the powerful get away scot-free,” Sumanthiran added.

This commitment to transparency is expected to contribute to a more informed and nuanced debate on the IMF program, allowing for a thorough analysis of the recommendations and their potential impact on the country’s economic landscape.

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