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On Sri Lanka, IMF Calls War Crimes Report Of Concern, Tranche Turns on Budget?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- Asked about Sri Lanka, IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson on May 20 said, "on the war crimes report, yes of course we're aware of that, and that's something that's of concern and interest."

  Inner City Press had asked about the IMF's current visit to northern Sri Lanka, the status of the delayed third tranche of the IMF program, and this week's International Crisis Group report on war crimes.

  Despite predictions that the third tranche will not be disbursed any time soon due to the policies of the Rajapaksa government, Ms. Atkinson on Thursday deferred answering, stating that "we have a mission in the field and that will conclude soon... by the end of the week so that means probably tomorrow."

  She said a press release would issue. But one wonders if the IMF will seek as it has in the past to limit questions and answers to friendly reporters. We'll see.

  "The travel to the North," Ms. Atkinson said, was "part of our usual practice of we go outside of the capital and meet with regular people." One wonders if the IMF met any of the people still in the IDP and "transit" camps.

IMF's DSK and Ms. Atkinson, ICG report on war crimes in Sri Lanka not shown

  From press reports, the meetings were with government officials like "
the Governor of Northern Province, G.A. Chandrasiri and the Government Agent/District Secretary for Jaffna K.Ganesh," who gave the IMF cost estimate of funds they want for the controversial camps.

If the IMF has in fact read the ICG report, it will note the call for an international investigation of the UN's support for "internment camps." Watch this site.

* * *

IMF Consumed in Greek Fire, Dodges on Romania, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Rwanda

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 6 -- With the International Monetary Fund's deal with the Greek government being followed, so far, by five deaths in protests, the IMF's fortnightly press briefing on Thursday not surprisingly focused on Greece. IMF spokesperson Caroline Atkinson emphasized that the austerity moves were the decision of the government, not the IMF. She promised a press availability by Dominique Strauss-Kahn after the IMF board's meeting on Sunday, on which phasing of the Fund's second largest program ever will be decided and announced.

That non-Greece questions were asked was met with surprise, and Ms. Atkinson answered few of them. Inner City Press submitted four questions, only two of which were allowed. Neither question was answered.

One question, on Pakistan, was Greece related in that experts have predicted violent reactions. Inner City Press submitted this question:

"Greece tie-in: In Pakistan, experts say that the govt has not prepared the public for the value added tax, that "the taxpayers... could resort to agitation and may even close down markets." What does the IMF say about VAT, the government's preparing of the people for it, and possibility of more IMF related violence?"

Also with an added Greek tie-in, to try to get an answer, Inner City Press submitted this, which was read out:

"Related to Greece if you are requiring that: in Romania, is IMF prepared to lift the country's budget deficit cap? How is the IMF's approach to Romania impacted by events in Greece?"

On this, Ms. Atkinson said that since there are negotiations -- in fact, the IMF mission is staying two extra days -- she would not comment. Then, generically, she said that IMF decisions are always impacted by other events, as well as being country specific. But of course!

On Sri Lanka, Inner City Press asked "is the IMF waiting for the so called mini budget for the rest of 2010 before considering the next tranche, and what does the IMF res rep [Koshy Mathai] mean by 'cutting inefficient expenditures'?"

It would seem important for the IMF to spell out or define this last, but Ms. Atkinson did not. Perhaps some later written response will arrive. One was promised to the last of the questions which Inner City Press submitted, which for some reason was mediated or edited by IMF staff.

Greece on fire, IMF not shown

Ms. Atkinson said, there is another question coming through, although I will have to answer it afterwards. Without attribution, she read out "On Rwanda, what is the status of the IMF's consideration of a Policy Support Instrument?" She then said that she did not know.

  In Kigali, IMF resident representative Dmitry Gershenson was quoted two days ago as having agreed to the PSI. And in Sri Lanka, res rep Koshi Mathai's statements remain unexplained.

To come back to Romania, the question Ms. Aktinson read out but would not answer, Reuters has already quoted sources that the deficit budget cap will be lifted. While the details may have to be worked out, wouldn't it seem important, including to "support, or I mean fight, contagion," to make clear that the IMF is at least temporarily showing flexibility to Greece's neighbors? Watch this site.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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