MonitorsPublished on Jul 27, 2009
The International Monetary Fund has cleared a standby facility of US $2.6 billion to Sri Lanka. This clearance comes despite criticism from various quarters over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
South Asia Weekly Report 82

Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">IMF approves $2.6 billion loan to Sri Lanka

The International Monetary Fund has cleared a standby facility of US $2.6 billion to Sri Lanka. This clearance comes despite criticism from various quarters over the deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Sri Lanka will be able to immediately tap the first disbursement of US $322 million under the 20-month programme but the rest of the amount will be disbursed in a phased manner. All 24 countries present in the executive board voted in favour of Sri Lanka. It constituted a major diplomatic victory for the island nation as such a gesture by an international body of repute will also push other financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank to deal with it more leniently. The loan will not only infuse global confidence in the economy of Sri Lanka, but will also make the credit cheaper. The opposition United National Party, however, criticized the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) for blindly accepting the conditions put forth by the donor agency. Keeping budget deficit at 7% for the current fiscal year is going to be a difficult task for Sri Lanka as it is already touching 5%. Possible negative fallout of the bailout package would be an increase in inflation due to spiraling energy prices once the government decides to stop subsidies for the loss making enterprises like Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
< class="maroontitle">Army to be reduced from Chittagong Hill Tracks

The Bangladesh government decided to reduce troops from the troubled Chittagong Hill Track (CHT).  A brigade, including three infantry battalions, will be pulled out and 35 military camps shut down by September 2009.  This move is part of the strategy to implement the peace accord signed in 1997 between the previous Awami League government and rebel Parbatya Chattagram Jana-Samhati Samiti, a political organization of the indigenous people of CHT. The government has also initiated a national committee to oversee its implementation. It has also reformed the CHT land commission, which remained inactive ever since the deal was inked. The indigenous people welcomed this step. The army has been accused of perpetrating atrocities on the local tribes. Meanwhile, the Bengali settlers have expressed their resentment and urged the government to reconsider its decision. They feared the lack of troops might escalate tension in the region. The indigenous people regard Bengalis to be outsiders.

< class="maroontitle">Gayoom faces President’s Commission
Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom will stand trial, which has been initiated by the President’s Commission. The Commission is investigating allegations against Gayoom of embezzlement of state funds and resources for personal gains. Gayoom denied having ever misappropriated state’s treasury for personal use and cast serious doubts over the safety of the documents, pertaining to his administration, which was kept in storage at President’s Office. In the meanwhile, a visiting European Union Member of Parliament advised Gayoom to retire from active politics and instead utilize his free time to promote Maldives at various international economic and environmental forums as a respected statesman.      
< class="maroontitle">Supreme Court declares November 2007 emergency illegal
The Supreme Court on Friday (July 31) declared the November 2007 Emergency unconstitutional and nullified all acts taken by Pervez Musharraf during the period between November 3 and December 16 2007. Resultantly, the court is now expected to scrutinise the 41 ordinances passed by Musharraf during the 42-day Emergency.

Zardari, for the time being, is not threatened by the development as the court will not examine the legitimacy of his presidency. The controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that paved the way for Zardari’s re-entry into active politics was in fact signed a month before the Emergency was imposed and will not be scrutinized.

The court also ruled out the possibility of Musharraf being tried for treason by the judiciary and emphasized that only the Parliament enjoys rights to initiate treason charges against the former President. This, however, remains highly unlikely as the army will certainly not be favourable towards an investigation that will expose the role of current serving officers.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                        – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee       – Bangladesh
      • Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti – Pakistan


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