The CEDSL Group of Lecturers and Activists Calls for Debt Cancellation to Save Sri Lanka

I’m honored to obtain and publish an attraction signed by distinguished Sri Lankan teachers, additionally…

I’m honored to obtain and publish an attraction signed by distinguished Sri Lankan teachers, additionally signed by our correspondent from Indo-Pacific Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake. In it, he highlights the very critical state of affairs of the nation and suggests some options to guard it from the financial catastrophe favored by the West.

Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake, is a Social and Medical Anthropologist, primarily based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Coalition for Financial Democracy in Sri Lanka (CEDSL) is a bunch of involved teachers, activists, agricultural, fisheries and industrial employees, college students, enterprise individuals, commerce unionists, and professionals primarily based ‘in nation’ and abroad, together with the diaspora, who uphold the values of financial rights and justice in public coverage making.

Within the wake of two years of economically-devastating Covid-19 lockdowns, quantitative easing, and cash printing globally, we name on worldwide actors to heed the folks’s calls for for a DEBT JUBILEE and CANCELLATION as a precedence.

We want to draw your consideration to key points relating to the present debt disaster and its social, political and financial impacts which aren’t adequately represented in public dialogue, but essential to the well-being and safety of Sri Lanka’s citizenry.


Worldwide help is welcome to ease the financial burden on the folks of Sri Lanka which incorporates shortages of gas, meals and medicines that affect livelihoods and well being, growing poverty and inequality. Nonetheless, because of an Worldwide Sovereign Bond (ISB), debt entice and depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee in opposition to the US greenback, sustainable options are wanted slightly than the quick time period sale of strategic belongings that advantages ISB holders and hedge funds that maintain dependent improvement.

In Might/June 2022 Sri Lanka’s debt was estimated to be US$51 billion with present money owed of US$5 billion to be paid to ISB holders and hedge funds like BlackRock. They secured enormous United States (US) authorities ‘Covid-19 bailout’ funds to asset-strip and impoverish international locations world wide in the course of the economically-devastating Covid-19 lockdowns.

Opposite to widespread media disinformation in regards to the sources of debt and the causes of default, that is the primary time that Sri Lanka, in April of this yr, defaulted as an impartial state. It’s the debt owed to ISBs that quantities to virtually 50% that has precipitated the default right now.

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The Asian Growth Financial institution and World Financial institution have indicated willingness to roll over its multilateral debt, so too the bi-lateral debt holding Asian international locations together with Japan, China and India. Together with debt cancellation there’s want for de-dollarization and buying and selling in a basket of currencies. The lack of such autonomy and sovereignty because of the ISB debt faucet and the Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) stepping in to devalue the foreign money is on the root of the present scarcity of meals, gas, meds, fertilizer, gasoline, and so on. The purported scarcity of ‘exorbitantly privileged’ {dollars} is essentially the most devastating affect of all the “staged” default.

Whereas the return of stolen belongings by the Rajapaksa household, some who’re US residents, is significant, we imagine that there’s a good higher want for DEBT JUSTICE, a DEBT JUBILEE, and DEBT CANCELLATION as the present worldwide monetary structure just isn’t match for goal, significantly, the IMF which works for the worldwide 1 p.c and imposes austerity on the remainder.


The gross lack of transparency in on-going negotiations between the IMF and a authorities that lacks legitimacy however purports to symbolize the residents, is a consequence of an inherently unequal relationship between Sri Lanka and the IMF, the place the US and former European colonial powers have overwhelming decision-making energy. Whereas the IMF calls for ‘transparency’ and that every one collectors be handled ‘equally’, the names of the ISB holders behind Sri Lanka’s default are a intently guarded secret!

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In 2019, Sri Lanka was labeled by the World Financial institution as an Higher Center Earnings Nation (MIC), making it ineligible for concessionary improvement loans, and forcing it to borrow from non-public capital markets at excessive rates of interest. The brand new authorities that got here to energy lower taxes inflicting a major lack of authorities income. The 2019 Easter bombings and insurance policies undertaken throughout two years of militarized Covid-19 lockdowns and mass injections have triggered the present debt disaster resulting in the staged default.

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In 2019, Sri Lanka was labeled by the World Financial institution as an Higher Center Earnings Nation (MIC), however simply three yr later in 2022 sure worldwide actors need this strategic island to be re-classified a ‘Least Developed Nation’ (LDC), to affix the world’s poorest of the poor[1] – in Washington Consensus parlance, a “Extremely Indebted Poor Nation” (HIPC).

LDC standing will imply a major lack of financial and overseas coverage autonomy and sovereignty at a time when it is important that Sri Lanka and different growing international locations act in their very own self-interest slightly than be pressured to affix geostrategic blocs which might be being shaped within the Indian Ocean area such because the Quadrilateral Group (QUAD) right now of Chilly Struggle 2.0.

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We think about that the folks’s sovereignty and nationwide coverage autonomy is being undermined by way of non-transparent offers with politicians who should not democratically elected and have a historical past of amassing ‘odious debt’, the burden of which residents are being pressured to bear. Significantly notable on the buildup of odious debt are the present odious, newly appointed Prime Minister, implicated within the nation’s largest monetary fraud over the Central Financial institution bond rip-off, and the President, a US citizen till 2019, whose household wallows in nepotism. They’re now negotiating with the IMF to promote nationwide belongings?!

There’s a clear sample of disinformation, exaggeration and fear-generation relating to Sri Lanka’s debt in native and international media messaging. This understates the intrinsic Wealth of the Nation, its strategic belongings, and the strengths of this nation given the failure to differentiate between illiquidity and insolvency within the context of a proposed IMF fireplace sale of belongings and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

The IMF’s conventional strategy to debt restructuring although privatization of SOEs, austerity measures, and fireplace sale of belongings of nations merely causes extra issues and locations the burden on the poor as is obvious from Argentina, to Greece and Lebanon. Nonetheless, odious debt is an end result of speculative and reckless ISB lending sans due diligence to governments that lack legitimacy and are identified to be corrupt. In truth, the IMF which works for the World One p.c is part of the issue and never the answer. So too are processes of datafication, manipulation of matrices, indices and algorithms to make sure ‘pumping and dumping’ of nations into the MIC debt entice primarily based on doubtful scores, LDC or HIPC standing and Paris Membership ‘options’ of asset stripping of nations.


The bail in another country ought to not result in bailing out of the corrupt political and bureaucratic elites and associated oligarchs whose insurance policies, corrupt governance and offers have precipitated the current disaster of unprecedented scale in our nation. The worldwide establishments and folks in Sri Lanka ought to work collectively to make sure that these elites are held accountable and appropriately dealt with. 

There’s an pressing want for Southern voices and views in improvement, debt cancellation and debt justice within the Worldwide Support Structure as many international locations within the World South face an analogous state of affairs of odious debt as an end result of speculative and reckless lending by ISB merchants who have to be additionally held accountable.[i][2]

The demand of many Sri Lankans is for debt cancellation and de-dollarization and buying and selling in a basket of currencies, not IMF re-structuring; for instance, to allow the acquisition of discounted oil and gasoline from sanction-hit Russia maybe in alternate for tea. Sri Lanka ought to have the financial and overseas coverage sovereignty to supply its wants from any nation that gives good worth for cash. Sri Lanka, strategically positioned on main sea lanes of communication (SLOC) within the Indian Ocean Area has lengthy been within the cross-hairs of massive energy rivalry, and of these in search of to re-colonize the island right now.

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A agency “No” to a IMF fireplace sale of strategic belongings and asset stripping: An inventory has already been ready of strategic lands, airports, ports, transport, telecom frequencies and vitality infrastructure to be privatized. The dastardly sale of the Yugadhanavi energy plant to US-based New Fortress has already additional compromised nationwide vitality safety and coverage sovereignty and autonomy.

Right this moment the pursuits of Sri Lanka are being represented by overseas regulation corporations, Lazard and Clifford Likelihood in so-called IMF negotiations with ISB merchants. On quite a few events, Lazard, which has been concerned in each advising on privatisation after which cashing in on its recommendation, has undervalued the value of state firms, enabling its asset administration department to buy the inventory at low costs and re-sell it for appreciable revenue.[3]

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If the debt negotiations are so complicated that Sri Lankan regulation corporations and accountants can’t symbolize the pursuits of the residents of the nation, and the debt information is itself contested, the debt is odious, its holders unknown, and the negotiations none-transparent. Then basic query come up relating to legitimacy, transparency and accountability of the very technique of so-called IMF negotiations. Such issues have been additionally raised in IMF negotiations in Greece, Lebanon, Argentina and different international locations.

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The United Nations Constitution and worldwide regulation affirm the Proper of Peoples to Self-Willpower and everlasting sovereignty over their wealth, sources and financial exercise as a precondition for the realisation of all human rights. So too, ideas of sovereignty and independence of states, equality in relations with different states, and nationwide policy-making autonomy can’t be eroded by international Covid-19 and different ‘pandemic’ and local weather disaster narratives.

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS: long-term, medium time period, quick time period

We search rather more than debt aid, and demand DEBT JUSTICE. Whereas the disaster in Sri Lanka is being framed as a “humanitarian catastrophe” it’s fairly clear that it’s extra complicated with financial, political, social and geopolitical dimensions and dynamics.[4] Options should therefore be duly designed, tailor-made and focused to enhance the lives of essentially the most susceptible, and to revive sovereignty to the folks of Sri Lanka and their State.

  1. We demand a DEBT JUBILEE and to jot down off the odious money owed held by ISB debt holders like BlackRock (that additionally holds Adani inventory), that have interaction in reckless lending that has debt trapped a number of international locations together with Sri Lanka. Covid-19 noticed the best switch of wealth in human historical past from the underside of the financial ladder to the highest.
  1. We name on the Authorities to urgently start a technique of de-dollarization and commerce in a basket of currencies to be able to restore Sri Lanka’s financial sovereignty and pursue a course of improvement that promotes South-South cooperation and responds to the wants and aspirations of the Sri Lankan citizenry. The relevance of the present Worldwide Growth Structure for Sri Lanka and different debt trapped international locations within the World South have to be questioned. Sri Lanka must rethink its relations with establishments just like the IMF, WB, OECD, and Paris Membership of Donors in a fashion that affirms, not dismantles, its sovereignty and coverage autonomy, each exercising the flexibility to barter as an impartial nation freed from IMF conditionality and US sanctions, and dealing within the pursuits of its residents.
  2. We name on the Authorities to right away cease all initiatives and actions underway for the privatisation of strategic belongings, together with lands, airports, ports, telecom frequencies, transport and vitality infrastructure, and reverse all actions already commenced or carried out as valuations didn’t think about the island’s geostrategic worth and safety issues.

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  1. We name on the Authorities to develop a Nationwide Vitality & Meals Safety Coverage taking full cognisance of the present international vitality wars, geopolitics and ‘local weather disaster’ discourses that power small states to bear the carbon prices of the World Army Enterprise Industrial Advanced. Of utmost significance in making certain meals safety is the upkeep of meals provide chains, and prioritization of gas for the Fisheries and Agriculture sectors within the context of gas rationing; rationalization of taxation, and focusing on the rich – to allow essentially the most susceptible teams equivalent to farmers, fishers precarious employees within the casual sector, and small and medium time period enterprises to regain their livelihoods. Within the absence of such a coverage, local weather narratives like the push to “inexperienced vitality” and natural fertilizer with out an ample transition plan and switch of know-how given the island’s tiny carbon footprint has contributed considerably to the present gas, meals and financial disaster in Sri Lanka and in different components of the World South.

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  1. The strengthening of governance and authorities establishments is paramount to handle the consequences of Covid-19 lockdowns which gave rise to a pandemic of corruption and a scarcity of accountability because of nationwide establishments and oversight companies being debilitated beneath the guise of lockdowns, holidays because of staged gas shortages, de-centralization and inept digitalization. Providers like public transport will be improved by way of extra vitality environment friendly and surroundings pleasant measures, together with the abolishing of responsibility free automotive permits for politicians and the privileged ‘skilled’ class. Lastly, there’s an pressing want for a “Purchase native” State-led client training program in order that residents help native trade and producers.

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Dr. Dharshana Kastiriaratne, Assistant Professor, College of Computing, Pc Science & Software program Engineering, Sri Lanka Institute of Info Know-how (SLIIT)

Mr. Jeremy Liyanage was a instructor of the Social Science, lecturer in Group Growth and held positions within the church, group and authorities sectors. Earlier than founding the charity, Bridging Lanka, he labored in senior coverage positions in native authorities in Australia

Dr. Michael Roberts – former Professor, Division of Anthropology, Adelaide College; Rhodes Scholar for Ceylon, and a historian and lecturer on the Dept of Historical past at Peradeniya College. His main works are in agrarian historical past, social mobility, nationalism and ethnic battle

Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake is a social and medical anthropologist with analysis experience in worldwide improvement and political financial evaluation. She was a member of the Worldwide Steering Group on “Southern Views on Reform of the Worldwide Growth Structure”

Professor R. Cheran – Division of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminology, College of Windsor, Canada, and a prolific poet 

Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda – Emeritus, Division of Political Science and Public Coverage, College of Colombo, and constitutional skilled in Sri Lanka

Professor Kristian Stokke – Division of Sociology and Human Geography

College of Oslo, specialising in political geography with concentrate on democratization and citizenship conflicts in Southeast Asia

Dr. Rohini Hensman is a author, impartial scholar and activist engaged on employees’ rights, feminism, minority rights and globalization

Mr. Herman Kumara – Nationwide Convener, Nationwide Fisheries Solidarity Motion, Chairperson, Praja Abilasha Land Rights Community and Board Member, Proper to Life Human Rights Group

Mr. P.C Nathan – Deputy Secretary Normal of Ceylon Mercantile and Normal Staff Union (CMU), one of many largest commerce unions within the business sector in Sri Lanka

Mr. Lacille De Silva – former Director, Administration, and former Director, Legislative Providers, Parliament of Sri Lanka

 Mr. Ranjit Seneviratne – Marine Engineer and former official with the FAO in Rome who now champions non-chemical, biodiverse ‘forest backyard’ strategies of cultivation

Mr. Hiran Fernando – retired Chemical Engineer who labored at Unilever for greater than 25 years and is now concerned in civil service initiatives

Mr. Thiyagaraja Waradas – Senior Lecturer, Division of Worldwide Relations, College of Colombo, and Commonwealth Scholar, College of Bathtub

Dr. Asoka Bandarage – educational and distinguished (adjunct) professor on the California Institute of Integral Research. She taught at Yale College, Brandeis College, Macalester School, Georgetown College, European Peace College and Mount Holyoke School, MA the place she obtained tenure

Mr. Ananda Weerasekere – retired Human Useful resource Administration Specialist and Social Activist

Mr. Gamini Lindagedara – Mechanical Engineer and Social Activist

Dr. Peter Rezel – Senior Marketing consultant and Medical Physician at Strategic Inspirations, and Director, Human Assets and Regional Inside Audit Audit – Asia with the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature

Mr. Asoka Siriwardena – former Lecturer in Political Science; worldwide civil servant on the Commonwealth Telecom Group London, and retired Deputy Normal Supervisor, Sri Lanka Telecom

Mr. Bernard Edirisinghe – Documentation Coordinator, Free Media Actions, former Programme Supervisor, South Asia Small Arms Community, and former Parliamentary Coordinator, Ministry of Energy & Vitality

[1] Ought to Sri Lanka be a part of the ranks of the “Poorest of the World’s Poor”?

[2] Cf. OXFAM report “Inequality Kills”.

[3] The Privatization Business in Europe by Sol Trumbo Vila and Matthijs PetersTransnational Institute T

[4] A brand new Quad Humanitarian and Catastrophe Reduction Mechanism (HADR)

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