There is nothing wrong with the government going to the IMF – the government has nothing else to do at this time – says the Minister of Environment.
Journalists today asked Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera whether government would seek the assistance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at this time, taking into account the current economic situation in the country.
Minister was addressing a media briefing at the Ministry of Environment today December 29.
The Minister who replied-
There is nothing wrong with going to the IMF- we have to go. There is nothing else to do at this time. Our economy is in a big crisis. So there is nothing wrong with going to the International Monetary Fund. But we do not have to accept all the conditions they set. There is a problem with the country’s lack of dollar.
I think the Secretary to the Treasury and the Governor of the Central Bank has been summoned to the Cabinet meeting next Monday. There we can make a final decision on whether or not to go to the International Monetary Fund. At this time we have two measures to take in the current dollar deficit in the country. One is to go to the International Monetary Fund. The other is to get support from our allies. I do not mean borrowing at interest. We can get assistance from our friendly countries under long term concessions at concessional interest rates.
The International Monetary Fund may impose certain conditions. Among them, many previous governments have sought the assistance of the International Monetary Fund in times of crisis. They accepted their acceptable terms and rejected those that could not be fulfilled. I do not think they agree.
What they often say is that some of our loss-making institutions need to be privatized. Also, there are situations where new government employees should not be recruited. Now we are not recruiting for new jobs anyway. Also, it would not be a problem to privatize highly loss making companies such as SriLankan Airlines.
Many people in our country see an airplane while working in the paddy fields, lakes and sea. They do not even get a chance to touch an airplane. But the burden of the loss incurred by SriLankan Airlines has been placed on those innocent people. Therefore, it would not be a problem to privatize the white elephants that are running at such a loss. And some five star hotels. If those too are losses they should be privatized. I believe that the burden should not be placed on the public.
He said there was no point in spending more public money and maintaining them by the government. Minister said.