Says on Sri Lanka, Int'l "Views Will Be Considered," Spends
on Honduras But Dodges Question
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 16 -- When the International Monetary Fund's Executive
Board finally meets on Sri Lanka's application for a $1.9 billion
loan, IMF spokeswoman Caroline Atkinson told the Press on Thursday,
"all of the international community's views will be considered."
The question posed, by Inner City Press, asked the IMF to respond to
reports that "funds spent in the North are 'the jailer of these
people and 'looks like internment.' What safeguards would be in
place?" Ms. Atkinson's answer, referring to what she called the
IMF's "good discussion with the authorities," did not
mention any safeguards. Briefing at Minute 17:18.
officials have made statements, which they have not retracted, that
Lanka's application for an IMF loan is "not moving,"
that the conditions are not right.
While the US
vacillated, the Obama administration's close attention to media
probably means that the New
York Times front page story of July 13,
and the next
day's editorial, makes less likely for now U.S. support
for a $1.9 billion loan to Sri Lanka, whose military budget is $1.6
This in Honduras -- but could be Sri Lanka, IMF
answers not shown
also asked if the expulsion of Manuel Zelaya from Honduras has given
rise to any changes or discussions within the IMF. Ms. Atkinson
responded that "we have followed the normal international
practice." She said that "we don't have any program with
the IMF last
month opened up a Technical Assistance Center for Central America,
Panama, and the Dominican Republic (CAPTAC-DR) in Guatemala City. IMF
Deputy Managing Director Takatoshi Kato was quoted that "this
center is an example of strong regional cooperation in Central
America, Panama and the Dominican Republic... A region with almost 40
million people has significant economic potential. The Fund is proud
to be a partner in the effort to promote regional economic growth and
development, and hopes that CAPTAC-DR will serve as an engine to push
forward the objective of a more economically cohesive region.” The
latest regional technical assistance center will serve Costa Rica,
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,
So the IMF has a
center which spend money to serve Honduras. Clearly, as in the case
of Sri Lanka for the last four months, the IMF likes to dodge
questions and, some say, accountability. But in light of the
CAPTAC-DR, it cannot so easily dodge the question of Honduras. The
World Bank has spoken
to the question. When will the IMF?
Inner City Press also asked the IMF, "What is the IMF's response
to the UN General Assembly's outcome document with its criticism of
the IMF and geographical balance, etc? And please deny that you pick
and choose and censor questions submitted online about pending IMF
loan applications - like Sri Lanka." The former has yet to be
answered; there has been one round of back and forth (without
substantive answer) on the latter. We will continue to pursue this.
* * *
Sri Lanka, IMF Said Ready to Lend, Dodges Ethnic Cleansing, Where
Are Obama, UK?
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
NATIONS, May 20 – With the Red Cross blocked from access in Sri
Lanka to the wounded and dying, with NGOs increasingly barred from
the UN-financed camps for IDPs, in Washington the International
Monetary Fund said Thursday that it looks forward to presenting for
approval to its Board Sri Lanka's request for a $1.9 billion loan.
The statement was made by the IMF's director of external relations
Caroline Atkinson. Inner City Press online asked a follow-up during
the Fund's biweekly press briefing, which Ms. Atkinson re-stated:
please state whether as the Sri Lankan government says the proceeds
of any IMF loan would support re-housing in the north, which some
would described as ethnic cleansing?
IMF's Ms. Atkinson responded, “Perhaps it's just helpful to clarify
that when the IMF lends, it is not for specific projects. We lend to
support a country's finances. We make a loan to the Central Bank to
support reserves. Any other question?”
On March 12,
Inner City Press went to the IMF in Washington and asked Ms.
Atkinson's colleague David Hawley what safeguards were being
considered to ensure that the proceeds of any IMF loan to Sri Lanka
wouldn't be enable war or ethnic relocation. Mr. Hawley said that
things were at an early stage. Later, French
Ambassador to the UN
Jean-Maurice Ripert told Inner City Press that “the Americans are
trying to play with the loan.”
The U.S. subsequently confirmed
this, receiving human rights credit for raising the issue. The UK has
as well. After a contrary
statement by the UK Ambassador to the UN, in
response to Inner City Press' question at the UN Security
Council stakeout, UK Foreign Minister David Miliband said he didn't
think conditions for an IMF loan to Sri Lanka were right. Are they
IMF's Dominque Strauss-Kahn and Ms. Atkinson,
ready to lend to Sri Lanka
Now, after two
weeks ago refusing to take the question at their briefing, the IMF
says that while there is still no access to the killing zone
in the North, while doctors who reported on the war as well as
offering treatment are detained and interrogated, it wants to present
the loan for approval by its Board within weeks.
What happened, some
ask, to the ostensible US and UK opposition? At the US State
Department this week, the Obama Administration appeared to waver or
move on from it previous position, both on the loan and as stated by
the President following Time magazine's diagnosis that Barack Obama
was failing the Sri Lanka test.
IMF's implicit argument that it is not supporting what a government
does on the ground by lending to its Central Bank is specious. In
fact, many experts on Sri Lanka note that the government's military
offensive in the North was assisted not only by aid after the
tsunami, but even more by the proceeds, to the Central Bank, of debt
forgiveness. Now during the current crisis the IMF wants to make a
loan to the Sri Lankan Central Bank. Ms. Atkinson alluded to, but did
not give an explanation as requested by Inner City Press, of a
“larger facility” being discussed.
justice, victor's loans, some call it, as they call the UN's Ban
Ki-moon's impending visit to Sri Lanka a sort of victory tour. Inner
City Press leaves today on the UN trip. Watch this site.
for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters
footage, about civilian
in Sri Lanka.
Click here for Inner City
Press' March 27 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN (and AIG
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
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