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As IMF Spins on Greece & Hedge Funds, No Answers on Ukraine, Sri Lanka

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 13 -- The International Monetary Fund under Christine Lagarde has become even less transparent, answering fewer and fewer press questions.

  During the IMF briefing on January 12, the first one in four weeks, Inner City Press submitted four questions, including this: "On Greece, please describe the IMF's engagement with hedge funds asking them to accept a hair cut: are hedge funds reacting differently than banks and what is the IMF doing?"

  IMF spokesman Gerry Rice did not posed the hedge fund or the other questions. After the briefing, another IMF spokeswoman wrote to Inner City Press: "We will get back to you on your questions bilaterally Matthew. Gerry had already responded on Greece."

  But Gerry Rice had not responded, on Greece, about "private sector" hedge funds. On the afternoon of January 13, the IMF put this out:

"In response to press queries on the talks between Greece and its creditors on private sector involvement (PSI), we are issuing the following line. This is attributable to an IMF spokeswoman:

'We look forward to the resumption of talks between Greece and its creditors. It is important that this lead to a PSI agreement that, together with the efforts of the official sector, ensures debt sustainability.'"

  While bland, at least it's a response. Here are the other three questions Inner City Press submitted during the January 12 briefing, which more than 24 hours later have not been answered "bilaterally" or at all:

On Ukraine, what if the relation between that country's negotiations with Russia on gas prices and the IMF resuming talks, after Ukraine passed the bankruptcy legislation it said the IMF wanted? What else would the IMF like to see?

On Sri Lanka, what is the IMF's response to Central Bank Governor Ajit Nivad Cabraal statement on January 3 that Sri Lanka will seek a fresh “follow up or surveillance program” with the IMF as the $2.6 billion loan obtained in 2009 is reportedly due to expire early this year? What is the IMF's thinking on Sri Lanka's failure to fully meet the budget deficit targets and its refusal to devalue the rupee?

Lagarde & spokesman, answers on Malawi, Sri Lanka, Ukraine not shown

On Malawi, please describe the state of the IMF's relations with Malawi, and reviving a program with Malawi, in light of recent statements by President Bingu wa Mutharika against the IMF? (he said on national radio that "Malawian government officials should stop protecting the IMF at the cost of their own citizens.. 'protect the IMF but protect the people' and that of any officials who [a]re unwilling to do so had to resign from their public posts, 'I will be glad to receive your resignation'"?)

  During the IMF's briefing in mid December, Inner City Press has submitted another question about Malawi, which also went ignored. The IMF and Africa, under Christine Lagarde? We'll see. Watch this site.

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