No objection from CB chief to tabling IMF deal:Speaker

ECONOMYNEXT –Sri Lanka’s central bank chief has informed the speaker of parliament that he has no objections to presenting the country’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) though doing so is a decision up to the minister of finance.Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena informed parliament Friday September 09 morning that Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe had communicated this to him in a discussion the two had held on the matter.

“He said he has no objections about presenting it, and he is prepared to present the report anytime, but it is a decision that ultimately rests with the minister of finance. The reason for this is that there are certain sensitive proposals including those with regard to taxation that cannot be revealed beforehand.

“He asked me to take it up with [President and Finance Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe] and then reach a decision,” said Abeywardena.

The speaker was responding to Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella who had reiterated a request by the main opposition the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) to table Sri Lanka’s agreement with the IMF in parliament.

“The government’s agreement with the IMF must be on our tables in parliament. How else can we discuss it? We must have something on the table,” said Kiriella.

“[IMF-recommended reforms] cannot be carried out without the support of the parliament and the people of the country, as you know,” he added.However, the central bank governor had previously said that Sri Lanka had no practice of revealing IMF programmes to parliament early and tax changes can only be revealed to the parliament at the time of implementation.

Kiriella further said: “No one can say that [the agreement] contains things that cannot be revealed to parliament. People will oppose any reforms that they feel are being carried out in secrecy.”

SJB MP Hesha Withanage requested that provisions in the agreement that can be revealed should be presented to parliament.

“With the exception of the contents that cannot be publicised, the rest must be presented. This is a non issue. We as the opposition has no intention of using this against the government. I ask you to intervene to ensure transparency, or else there will be more allegations that both sides in parliament are teaming up and making deals.”

Speaker Abeywardena responded that he would bring the matter to the attention of the finance minister.Meanwhile, Leader of the House and Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said: “There is no such agreement yet. Only an understanding. A final agreement will only be reached upon IMF board approval.”

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