‘Ethnocracy’?

Out of the 55 Secretaries, the senior-most civil servants of Sri Lanka’s ministries, appointed this week, one was a Tamil, another a Muslim; the rest were Sinhalese. Recruitment of young Tamils or Muslims into the civil service has been negligible over the past several years; this year there were none. This is what Tamils mean by 'the Sinhala state'. The full list of newly appointed Secretaries - and what qualified the lone Tamil for the job - is available here . On a related note, it’s worth recalling how – and when – Sri Lanka’s armed forces became mono-ethnic. Prof. Brian Blodgett ,...

Sri Lanka’s foreign debt less attractive than even Greece's

So much for Colombo's claim of 'post-war optimism' amongst foreign investors. Sri Lanka’s long term sovereign debt is presently rated as less attractive to foreign creditors than that of Greece, which triggered another international financial crisis earlier this year after being caught concealing a yawning budget deficit. Standard & Poor’s , the debt rating agency, has given Greece’s foreign debt an overall rating of BB while Sri Lanka scores B+. According to the agency’s website , a rating of B is understood as more vulnerable to debt default than BB. The +/- signs indicate a state's relative standing within the overall ‘B’ category. S&P's raised Sri Lanka’s debt rating in September this year from B to B+ primarily on the condition Colombo sticks to the IMF’s reform programme, the LBO reported . Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is amongst the world's heaviest borrowers .

‘Britain must take the lead on investigating Sri Lanka war crimes’

“At first the UK government applauded the establishment of [Sri Lanka’s] LLRC, even though the deficiencies in the scope of its mandate and in its processes were evident from the outset. … The EU, unlike the UK, was quicker to see through this farce. … Fortunately the UK's position is now shifting. [However] words should translate into further action … leading to an independent international inquiry.” “The UK is uniquely placed to take the lead on refusing to settle for the whitewash that the Sri Lankan government is putting forward, and to demand more.” Elaine Pearson, deputy director of...

Dodgy numbers

The economic statistics that Sri Lanka publishes can’t be trusted. For example, in 2009 Sri Lanka claimed the construction industry ‘grew’ – despite falling cement volumes and a plunging housing market. Sri Lanka’s claimed drop in inflation, meanwhile, came after a telling change in the index being tracked, LBO reports .

Coming Contradiction

When Sri Lanka's military finally defeated the Liberation Tigers in May 2009, having also slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, President Mahinda Rajapakse and the rest of the Sinhala establishment were confident that not only would the Tamils now meekly acquiesce to Sinhala rule, but so would the international community. They were wrong on both counts. Not only have the Tamils endured the ravages inflicted on them during and after the war, they still stubbornly insist on their demand for self-rule. On the other hand, rather than embrace the Sinhala ethnocracy, the international community is doggedly pursuing its transformation into a liberal market democracy.

Parameters for international investigations into Sri Lanka’s war

There has been some convergence between Tamil and international demands for an independent international investigation into the events of 2009 in Sri Lanka. The international community now largely supports the view that the manner in which the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka were fought may constitute crimes against humanity.

Who benefits from Chinese loans to Sri Lanka?

Whilst China’s massive development loans to Sri Lanka are often portrayed as rescuing the Rajapakse administration from international economic pressure over human rights abuses, the details tell a different story. While China’s loans are an immediate de-facto handout for Chinese companies (which Sri Lanka is obliged through conditionalities to hire and purchase from), future Colombo governments will be left with the debts - at interest rates higher than other developmental lenders ask for. In short, Colombo is borrowing from China but pumping the money into the Chinese – not Sri Lankan – economy.

Less than 1% of rural infrastructure spending in Tamil areas

The Sri Lankan government’s own figures reveal that from a total budget of $10m (Rs 1214 million) earmarked for rural infrastructure development, only Rs12 million was spent in the seven Tamil speaking districts. Over half the total budget was spent in three southern Sinhala majority districts. (See details on p29 of the government's ' Fiscal Management Report - 2010 ') President Mahinda Rajapakse’s home district of Hambantota received the largest allocation (Rs 408 million), while the second highest went to Kurunegala (Rs157 million) ,with Matara the third largest beneficiary (Rs128 million...

Fears for the economy – and of the state

The Sri Lankan state’s debt dependent and public sector heavy economic strategy is crowding out private investment, lowering domestic savings and foreclosing a sustainable economy in the long term, business and economic analysts warned this week. The Central Bank’s growth projection were this week revised downwards by ratings agencies RAM Ratings and Standard & Poor’s who also warned that Sri Lanka’s long term growth depended crucially on cutting government spending. Meanwhile, fear is silencing critics of the government’s economic policies, one business leader protested this week.

Sri Lanka is amongst world's heaviest borrowers - Moody's

In proportion to what it earns, Sri Lanka borrows more than almost any other state, according to the ratings agency Moody’s. Sri Lanka’s total debt was 545 per cent larger than the total government revenue in 2009, one of the highest for any sovereign assessed by Moody’s, LBO reports . Only Lebanon rated 'B1' and Jamaica rated 'B3' had worse credit metrics, among countries rated by Moody's.

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