Sri Lanka being hounded by Vultures
Posted on June 26th, 2022

by Garvin Karunaratne

News is just out that Sri lanka has been taken to the Courts in the USA by a bond holding company, Hamilton Reserve Bank Ltd, which owns $ 250 million of International Sovereign Bonds, requesting a Court Order for payment. This refers to a portion of the loan the payment of which Sri Lanka defaulted in April 2022.

This is an exact replica of what happened to Argentina. In my words, written in August 2014:

Argentina is in the dog’s house once again. This time it is hounded by the Vultures- the Hedge Funds who have obtained a ruling from the US Supreme Court that debts amounting to $ 1.5 billion on bonds has to be paid at full value immediately. This decision made the Argentinian Economic Minister remark that the Hedge Funds were Vultures as they refused to negotiate terms for payment and instead obtained a Court Order.”(From the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development, Godages: 2017).

Thus now Sri Lanka is being attacked by Vultures- because Sri lanka had to default on international sovereign bonds recently in April. I wonder how Sri Lanka can ever pay up a Court Order, because the sad situation today is that people are starving for the lack of food and medicines. I read a news item where patients in hospitals are groaning in pain due to the lack of medicines. People have been in queues for days to buy essential gas for cooking and fuel for automobilies and fifteen have died in queues. We live within powercuts as we have no dollars for coal and oil supplies. The Vultures will be on us, attacking us soon and I do not know how Sri Lanka can face it.

It is unfortunate that right now the country is ruled by a Prime Minister , Ranil Wickremasinghe who failed to enter parliament through the elections. The United National Party of which he was the leader was routed at the election and he crept into Parliament though the National List- in short he was not elected by the people.

Further it is quite evident now that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe is not trying to get the economy moving- by creating employment cum production programmes going. The people cannot afford to buy as they have lost their employment and it is up to any Government to come up with employment creation in such a manner that the people get involved in making what items they did import earlier. In 2020 I found Tomato sauce & Vinegar made in USA , fruit juice made in Australia , banana crisps made in Vietnam for sale and this is an endless list of small items that we can produce which we did import with borrowed dollars. The dollars have dried up and we can no longer import due to the lack of dollars. The immediate need is to get down to produce what we imported, which we are not doing. We do not need a single dollar to attend to this task. It is all an expense in Rupees in the manner we ran the country before 1977- then everything was done with Rupees and dollars were collected on a strict basis and used to import food and first and a small sum for a limited sum for essentials like fridges and cars. Not a single person is required as the public sector of 1.4 million is there.

But that is not how Prime Minister Ranill Wickremasinghe sees it. He talks big and states that Sri Lanka will face more severe hardships- perhaps starvation. Instead he has his own agenda- privatize loss making public ventures. Of course kick backs are associated with privatizations. We sell for a song and at the end the venture privatized does not belong to Sri lanka- a foreigner comes in and works it and takes away the profits- not in rupees but in dollars from our reserves. We do have a worthwhile public service that has been put into the barracks by the IMF in 1977 when the IMF decided that the public sector should not attend to any commercial activity and with that dictate the administrators who ran the powerlooms, the small industries, large industries, the sleuths that made Sri Lanka self sufficient in paddy- the staple crop in 1970- I happened to be one of them, were all made redundant- continued doing something, paying homage to petty politicians that were placed over them. This mass of administrators have to be called to work to direct programmes that will bring production and employment.

Instead of pursuing tasks aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the people, our Prime Minister’s latest task has been to grant deeds for crown lands, which he has done well, commencing last week- called a ‘Land For All’ Programme that has within a few days granted thousands of deeds to people who own crown land. It is all a piece of paper given with pomp and pagentry. These were crown lands alienated on a specific proviso that it has to remain with the peasantry and cannot end up with business magnates and multinationals. This was the dictate of our founder D.S.Senanayake. What is not said- hidden, is that this was a pre requisite for the MCC Grant of $480 million from the USA – the terms being to hand over a third of our country, a corridor from Colombo to Trincomalle including districts Kandy and Kurunegala to the USA for 200 years.

This was a prime concern in the 2019 Presidential Election where the then UNP under Ranil Wickremasinghe did commence giving deeds for crown land held by the peasantry which was stopped by public outcry, but Ranil Wickremasinghe said that he will sign the MCC Compact agreement the very next day if he won. President Gotabhaya declared that he would not sign such a give away of our sovereignty. Now as a Prime Minister instead of implementing production and employment programmes to bring incomes to the people and also produce what we imported he has commenced this granting land deeds. I will not be surprised to hear any one of these days that he has signed the MCC Compact Deal.

It is up to President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his Ministers to immediately look into this activity that may end in the sale of our sovereignty for 200 years to the USA. Mind you the British ruled Sri lanka for less than 150 years.

Garvin Karunaratne, former GA Matara, Ph.D. Michigan State University

Author of: Microenterprise Development… The Way Out of the IMF Stranglehold, Sarasavi, 1997

How the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka & Alternative Programmes of Success, Godages, 2006

How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development, Godages, 2017

How the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Destroyed Sri lanka, Godages, 2022

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