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Controls, desserts, strikes and bets – Part 27



Annika, a repeat guest was happy that I created two new desserts with her name.


By Dr. Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena DPhil

President – Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada

Founder & Administrator – Global Hospitality Forum

Scarcities and Buffet Controls

The closed economy policies of the then socialist government of Sri Lanka forced hoteliers, particularly chefs, to manage with many shortages of essential imported ingredients. The government banned importing many types of food items unless essential for general public. Most hoteliers were upset that food items such as European cheeses, stuffed olives, preserved maraschino cherries were not available any more. As all hotels were in the same boat, I personally did not worry about such scarcities. I considered these challenges as opportunities to be creative in using similar ingredients locally available.

Most hotels in Sri Lanka at that time were not sophisticated with concepts such as menu engineering. I simply updated the menus periodically based on the popularity of the dishes, guest feedback, cost and seasonal availability of fresh and inexpensive ingredients. That seemed to work well. The basic target given to most executive chefs on the island at that time, was to maintain the food cost under 40% of the food revenue. I personally aimed at keeping my food cost at 33%. I also attempted to get higher allocation for food in full-board pricing packages. In addition, I was vigilant in recording all unconsumed food items from buffets returning to the kitchen. I also closely monitored and checked any food wastage by checking garbage bins. Such simple tasks helped me to perfect my daily requisitioning quantities of all ingredients from the stores.

Monday Creative Desserts

One Sunday some large quantities of bread pudding, pineapple compote, and cream caramel returned from the buffet tables to the cold rooms in the kitchen. As a cost cutting exercise, I immediately created a new dessert by placing layers of those three desserts in ice cream cups. Next day for lunch I served these as one of the choices for desserts. I covered each cup with meringue and decorated with a local cherry. We had an unfriendly Swedish Tour Leader who stayed at Coral Gardens Hotel for four months, with whom the hotel manager, Muna and I tried to have a better working relationship. I named that dessert with her name – ‘Gunilla Surprise’. For the first time that season, Gunilla smiled. She was so thrilled with my creation, she announced it to her entire group of tourists. We received no more complaints from Gunilla during the balance two months of the tourist season.

After that, depending on good quality desserts returning to the kitchen from Sunday buffet tables, I commenced creating a new dessert for the lunch menu on most Mondays. I named these desserts after returning guests, long staying guests, difficult guests and also attractive guests. This gimmick became so popular that at times I had male guests prompting me to name desserts after their wives or girlfriends on Mondays. Some guests asked me to sign the menu cards which had desserts named after them and took these cards home as souvenirs. They often took photographs of me presenting the dessert and signed menu card to the guest who was honoured. As a result of this creative initiative, I faced a challenge only once.

Butler Raman appeared in my office one Sunday afternoon and said, “Master, Miss Annika wants to see you.” I asked him, “Who is Annika?” While he was explaining that it was a young guest who stayed at the hotel for two weeks at the beginning of the same tourist season, Annika entered my office and gave me a big hug. I immediately remembered her face. “I am back for two more weeks, as Denmark is facing a very cold winter. I need a good tan, again!” Annika told me. “I have a gift for you, but before sharing it with you, I need a gift from you,” she said flirtingly. When I asked what she had in mind, Annika said, “I want you to serve that beautiful dessert you created with my name, for lunch tomorrow.”

Not remembering the exact dessert named after Annika just three months ago, was a challenge for me. Therefore, I created another dessert using some thin pancakes and fruit salad and passion fruit mousse returned from the Sunday buffet. I served it with a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream and topped with mango jam sauce. I named it, ‘Crêpe Annika’ and served it as a dessert for lunch on the next day. “This is not the same!” Annika playfully complained. “You are a very special guest who deserves a second dedicated dessert.” I bluffed. She probably saw through my cunning, but graciously laughed and said, “Thank you very much, Chef Chandi. I feel honoured!” After tasting my dessert, she smiled while nodding her head in approval. Then she said, “Nice! Now, tell me when do you want to unwrap your gift?” After that I commenced recording all my new creations in a special log book, just in case. The columns in this log book read as: date created, name of the dish, recipe, garnish, guest (name, country, hair colour, eye colour) and ‘other’ remarks.

The Asian Buffet

During my first tourist season as an executive chef, I also made some miscalculations. I was eager to showcase the Asian dishes I learnt during my training period at Bentota Beach Hotel and the Chinese, Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian dishes I taught myself in 1975. I introduced a weekly Asian Buffet, but that was not very popular with our guests who were predominantly European and Scandinavian. After a month I suspended that weekly offer.

Lesson learnt from that failure is that no new product should be introduced without a customer preferences survey or research. Later in my career as a Food and Beverage Director and a General Manager of large five-star hotels, I arranged quick surveys before deciding on any new weekly theme night or food festival. Often hoteliers decide on such events, but the key for success is to ask the most important people – customers. Determining the needs of the customer and offering products and services to satisfy those needs is a such a simple concept. One never goes wrong with that in terms of profitability of hospitality operations.

Token Strikes

In 1976, we frequently faced another problem – monthly token strikes organized by the trade unions controlled by leftist political parties. These brief strikes lasted 24-hours and intended to convey strength of feeling on a disputed issue. Unfortunately, these disputed issues had nothing to do with hotels or hotel employees. For example, if there was a long-unsettled strike at the Colombo Port, the LSSP which controlled most trade unions arranged an all-island token strike in solidarity with the workers at the Colombo Port. I saw no logic in these show of power actions by the political parties, but decided to keep my mouth shut.

By then, I had developed a close bond with the kitchen brigade. Therefore, they always gave me a heads up about the timing of these token strikes. I planned to prepare simple dishes on those token strike days. To help me out, the kitchen brigade did most of the advance preparations for the three meals, the day before. On average, once a month, I cooked all meals needed for the whole day by myself and arranged buffets without any frills. Muna helped with the restaurant service and clean up. While the employees were co-operative, they became very hostile if any fellow employees crossed the picket line and worked at the hotel, during any token strike.

Monkey Business

One day a cook asked me if I’d like to have a monkey as a pet. I laughed thinking that it was a joke. He said, “Chef, I am serious. In the back yard of my house in the village we found three baby monkeys. We are keeping one and my son took one. If you like, I would love to give the other monkey to you as a gift. After I had one look at the baby monkey, I fell in love with it and so it became my pet. We made a small shelter for him just outside my apartment. He used to nap in the afternoon and the Maintenance Engineer for both sister hotels (Coral Gardens and Bentota Beach), P. P. Abeywardena (Abey), often made a big noise to see the monkey’s reaction. As it always jumped up when it heard the loud noise, Abey named him, ‘Dudumskie’ (or the sound of an exploding grenade).

Dudumskie was simply hilarious. In the morning when I was at work, he ate flowers in the garden and the hotel gardeners hated him. When he got bored, he visited the balconies of guest bedrooms, and at times dropped glasses to the ground from upstairs rooms. That angered the room boys. Dudumskie also terrified the four rabbits we had at the hotel as pets. However, Dudumskie was very popular with most of the hotel guests, who often fed him with goodies. I held a bet with Muna that Dudumskie could be trained to be an obedient pet, within three months.

As most European countries did not allow monkeys as pets, interacting with Dudumskie was a novel experience for hotel guests. They thought that he was funny and intelligent. Whenever he saw white tourists, particularly ladies, he acted as if he had been starved. As a result of frequent feeding by tourists, after a few months he started gaining weight and became less athletic in his jumps from tree to tree. Every time I came to my apartment between lunch and dinner service for a short break, I sat in the garden and just watched Dudumskie engage in all types of mischief. He never let me down in providing some entertainment before I went back to work for dinner service.

Winning a Bet

By April 1976 when the tourist season ended, Muna and I were praised by the head office for having the best tourist season ever since the hotel had opened 10 years previous. I was promoted to Assistant Manager, in addition to my role as the Executive Chef. My duties remained the same but I was happy with the glorified title. My salary was increased to Rs 1,000 a month. That was a very good salary at that time for a 22-year-old young executive in any industry in Sri Lanka.

I then remembered that I held a bet the day I graduated from the Ceylon Hotel School in 1974. The bet was held with a student two years my junior – Keheliya Rambukwella. Like me, Keheliya was a trouble maker at CHS, and was very friendly with me. The bet was that before he graduated from CHS in two years’ time, that I will be earning a four-figure monthly salary. As I reached that mark six months ahead, I called Keheliya and reminded him about our friendly bet. He congratulated me but, somehow with a ‘cock and bull story’, got me to forget about the bet money. At that point jokingly I told him, “Machang, you should enter politics. I am sure that you would do well!” I have not met Keheliya for some time, but I am impressed with his decades-long career in politics in Sri Lanka including cabinet ministerial posts with a few governments.

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Singarasa Case should guide GoSL’s Geneva policy



BY Dharshan Weerasekera

In 2005, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled in the seminal case Singarasa v. Attorney General (SC/SPLA/182/99) that the U.N. Human Rights Commission (the predecessor of today’s U.N. Human Rights Council) did not have jurisdiction, within Sri Lanka, to make recommendations on behalf of the petitioner. In doing so, the court decided that Sri Lanka’s accession to the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1997 had been done in a manner contrary to the Constitution, and hence illegal.

This case has invaluable lessons to teach in regard to the present government’s ‘Geneva Policy.’ By ‘Geneva Policy,’ I mean the government’s stance to the UNHRC’s follow-up resolutions to Sri Lanka’s unilateral withdrawal, in March 2020, from the co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1 of October 2015. In response, the Council adopted Resolution Resolution than 30/1. Among other things, it establishes an evidence-gathering mechanism to collect evidence of war crimes and other crimes against Sri Lankans.

Meanwhile, in September 2022, the High Commissioner released a report on Sri Lanka’s progress in implementing the recommendations of Resolution 46/1. The government has officially rejected both, Resolution 46/1 and the High Commissioner’s report, on grounds that they were done without Sri Lanka’s consent and, therefore, contrary to the founding principles of the Council. (See A/HRC/51/G/1, paras 1.1, 1.2). However, the Foreign Ministry, in its response, lists various things that the government is doing to comply with Resolution 46/1.

I argue that the government, continuing to comply with the Resolution while, at the same time, rejecting it in principle, without first obtaining a definitive interpretation of the relevant legal position, from an international forum, or even the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, creates a dangerous precedent. Given the fact that state practice is one of the sources of customary international law, the government’s conduct has the potential to do irreparable harm to the long-term interests of the country.

Unfortunately, there is little, or no, discussion of these issues in local newspapers, and academic journals, and it is in the public interest to start one. In this article, I shall discuss: i) the facts and reasoning of the Singarasa judgment, ii) the High Commissioner’s report and the government’s reply, iii) assess of the government’s position, and draw the relevant conclusions.

The Singarasa case

In 1991, the High Court of Colombo convicted Singarasa of five charges, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The charges dealt with alleged attempts by Singarasa, and others, to attack the Army camps,in Jaffna and its suburbs. Singarasa appealed against the conviction to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court. He also complained to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The HRC could entertain petitions under the Optional Protocol to ICCPR. Sri Lanka had ratified the ICCPR, in 1980, and acceded to the protocol, in 1997. The HRC said that, Sri Lanka was under obligation to release Singarasa.

The main issue, in this case, is whether Sri Lanka’s accession to the ICCPR, and the related protocol, gives a right to an international body to intervene in the domestic sphere to determine Singarasa’s fate. The court answers ‘no,’ because of the following reasons. The court starts with the premise that the authority for the President to enter into international agreements comes from Article 33(f) of the Constitution. Article 33(f) states: “To do all such acts as, not being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution…he is required or authorized to do.” It follows that the President cannot agree to anything inconsistent with the Constitution.

The court then assesses the signing of the ICCPR, in 1980, and the subsequent accession to the optional protocol, in 1997, separately. The court points out that the ICCPR requires that the respective signatories adopt domestic legislation to implement the provisions of the covenant. This does not conflict with our Constitution and hence is lawful.

However, when acceding to the optional protocol, the government had issued a declaration that envisioned that the rights of Sri Lankan citizens could be adjudicated in tribunals, and forums, outside this country. The court points out that the institutions, through which Sri Lankans can vindicate their rights, within this country, are exhaustively set out in Article 105 of the Constitution, and the HRC is not one of them. Therefore, the court deems the accession to the optional protocol illegal. The court states:

“Where the President enters into a treaty or accedes to a covenant the content of which is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution or written law it would be a transgression of the limitation in Article 33 (f) and ultra vires—such acts of the President would not bind the Republic qua State.” (p. 11)

The High Commissioner’s report and the Government’s reply

The most disturbing aspect of the High Commissioner’s report is its description of the progress made by the impugned evidence-gathering mechanism. It states: “OHCHR continues to develop the information and evidence repository using an e-discovery platform….OHCHR commenced identifying material held by other actors and engaging with information providers. To date, the databases of two organisations have been migrated into the repository, and negotiations with other information providers are ongoing.” ((A/HRC/51/5, 4th October 2022, para 54.)

The report also details what the OHCHR plans to do with this information. It says: “To develop possible strategies for future accountability processes, the project team started mapping potential accountability process at international level, including through consultations with relevant stakeholders, in particular national authorities, victims and civil society organisations.” (para 56.)

In sum, it is clear that a vast operation is underway, not just to collect evidence against Sri Lanka but to set the groundwork to help prosecute Sri Lankans before various national and international forums. To the best of my knowledge, the founding statutes of the UNHRC, as well as the OHCHR, do not give enforcement capabilities to these institutions to prosecute or assist in the prosecution of people for violations of human rights and other offences.

Their respective mandates to protect and promote human rights are to be carried out with the consent of all nations concerned and in a spirit of “cooperation and constructive international dialogue.” Therefore, through the impugned mechanism the OHCHR has now arguably expanded its mandate to include an enforcement component, seemingly without any debate or discussion of the matter before the Council.

To turn to the government’s response, in the introductory paragraphs of the said document, the government rejects both resolution 46/1 as well as the High Commissioner’s report on grounds that they violate the UN’s founding principles. However, for much of the remainder of the report (which runs to 16 pages) the government enumerates the various things it has been doing to implement various provisions of the resolutions. For instance, the government discusses the work being done under the Office on Missing Persons, Office for Reparations, and so on.

On the OMP, the report states inter alia: “The OMP conducted panels of inquiries as part of the verification process. More than 89% of persons (1207 of 1370 applicants invited for inquiries) met with members of the panel and their testimonials were recorded.” (A/HRC/51/G/1, 9th September 2022, para 46)

Meanwhile, on the Office for Reparations, the report says, “The office processed 5964 claims for payment, by the end of 2021, and paid a sum of Rs. 399.8 million in settlement, out of the allocated sum of Rs. 800 million….Upto the end of 2022, the OR received Rs. 226 million to pay compensation and 2097 claims were settled utilizing Rs. 153 million.” (para 56)

In sum, even though the government has nominally rejected resolution 46/1 and by extension resolution 30/1 as well, the government is expending great energy, including enormous sums of money, to comply with various provisions of those resolutions.

Assessment of the policy

The Singarasa case establishes that the President, when conducting foreign policy, is exercising the power conferred under Article 33 (f) of the Constitution. One cannot suppose that it is consistent with the Constitution to comply with the provisions of a resolution that the Government itself considers to be in violation of the founding principles of the UNHRC.

Admittedly, a resolution of the UNHRC does not rise to the level of a treaty or covenant. However, there should now be a serious debate in this country about whether the reasoning above should apply to such resolutions which continue to target Sri Lanka on the world stage.

Furthermore, if, as I have suggested, the OHCHR has expanded its mandate by exploiting the provisions of Resolution 46/1 to acquire capabilities that were never envisioned in the relevant founding statutes, permitting such conduct to continue has the potential to set precedents in customary international law, with grave consequences for Sri Lanka, as well as other nations.

Therefore, Sri Lankan citizens are entitled to know the legal basis for the government’s continued compliance with provisions of Resolution 46/1, while nominally rejecting the Resolution. The only institution that can provide a legal opinion binding on the government is the Supreme Court. The President has the capacity, under Article 129 of the Constitution, to request an advisory opinion of the Supreme Court on any matter of public importance.

In these circumstances, it is incumbent on the government to seek an advisory opinion as to whether it is lawful for the government to continue complying with provisions of Resolution 46/1 unless and until the UNHRC clarifies its position in regard to the impugned mechanism.


It is in the interest of all Sri Lankans to keep a close eye on what the government is presently doing in Geneva. There is a famous legal maxim that says, “The laws assist the vigilant, not the sleepy.” Ultimately, it is the Sri Lankan people who will pay the price for any mistakes or missteps that successive governments make in regard to their “Geneva Policy.’

(The writer is an Attorney-at-Law)

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Human Papillomavirus vaccine: one that can prevent a cancer



This article has been written as a fervent plea to the parents of little girls of the eligible age group. Please make sure that your precious daughters get this vaccine. It will be an investment for their happiness in the future.

By Dr B. J. C. Perera

All vaccines by definition are substances that are used to stimulate immunity against a particular infectious disease or a specific causative organism. Such vaccines are used to prevent the occurrence of the said diseases in humans and animals. Several vaccines have been introduced to combat such infectious diseases over the last few decades. In some countries, the use of some of these vaccines has led to the elimination of dreaded diseases like Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough or Pertussis, Polio, Measles, German Measles or Rubella, just to name a few.

Sri Lanka has a very efficient and inherently equitable system that looks after the Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) for children and young people. In general, we have been extremely successful in this programme and can boast of over 90 per cent coverage for the vaccination of all children. We have successfully eliminated polio, the last case being confirmed as far back as 1993, and we are free of diphtheria, tetanus, measles and German measles or rubella. The success of the EPI is due to many factors that include government commitment, the unstinted dedication of parents, the promotion of the programme through all media channels and the dedicated work of all grades of healthcare personnel. The very high literacy rate of the populace of our country enables all information regarding vaccination to be most conveniently conveyed to the population. Sri Lanka has been hailed as a country that has achieved so much in this field, but with so few resources. It has been cited as a model to the entire Asian region as well as even the world.

In addition to their undoubted effectiveness in protecting against infective microorganisms, some of these vaccines have other bonus effects. At least two of the vaccines in use today have telling effects in preventing certain cancers. One is the Hepatitis B vaccine. It provides protection against liver cancer. The other is the more recent Human Papillomavirus vaccine (HPV vaccine) which protects females against cancer of the neck of the womb, which is also referred to as the cervix of the womb. That disease is generally referred to as Cervical Cancer.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted and most people become infected sometime during their lifetime. In the majority, it is soon after becoming sexually active. Most infections are asymptomatic and usually clear up spontaneously, accounting for remission in 90% within two years. Only 10% of persistent HPV infections with certain genotypes of HPV can persist and progress to changes in the cervix. If infection from cancer-causing HPV types persists over 10-15 years, women can go on to develop precancerous lesions that, if left untreated, develop into cervical cancer. This process takes an average of 20-30 years from infection to the development of cervical cancer.

In 1995, Dr Anne Szarewski, a renowned researcher from the United Kingdom, led a team who outlined the role of human papillomavirus in uterine cervical cancer detection and screening. Then the researchers began work on an HPV vaccine. Szarewski was also a chief investigator, principal investigator and author of key HPV vaccine trials and publications, who helped to develop the bivalent HPV vaccine. The word bivalent is used to indicate that it contains two strains of HPV. HPV infections are very common, often with minimal symptoms, but high-risk HPV strains can go on to cause other medical conditions, particularly cervical cancer.

In 2006, the first vaccine for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) to be used globally was approved. HPV vaccination has now gone on to become a key part of the effort to eliminate cervical cancer. According to the available research results, HPV vaccination could reduce the lifetime risk of cervical cancer by 35–80%; the rather wide range being due to several studies with different methods. The vaccine was initially promptly snapped up in the West, especially in the Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, the coverage of the vaccine is over 80 per cent. However, according to the data put out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in November 2022, the human papillomavirus vaccine against cervical cancer has been introduced in just 41 per cent of low-income countries, even though they represent much of the disease burden, compared to 83% of high-income countries. We have a set of 10-year data on the benefits of the vaccine and in certain Western countries, a significant drop in the morbidity and mortality rates of cervical cancer is already evident.

In Sri Lanka, the National Vaccine Summit in January 2015 recommended the usage of the HPV vaccine and the government introduced it in 2017 for girls within the age range of 10 to 13 years. That age group was decided on the premise that to get the best results, we need to introduce the vaccine before sexual activity starts. The vaccine was to be administered to the selected age groups in the schools free of charge and in the fee-levying private sector. To date, the vaccine is not available through the Immunisation Clinics of the Provinces and the MOH Clinics.

NOW HERE IS THE REAL CRUX OF THE MATTER. For a variety of reasons, the coverage of the HPV vaccine in the entire cohort of eligible girls in Sri Lanka is somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent. This is woefully inadequate coverage to get the best possible results, especially when looked upon in the light of over 90 per cent coverage of the other vaccines in the National Expanded Programme of Immunisation. Cervical cancer ranks among the five commonest cancers in women in Sri Lanka. HPV vaccine is just one of two vaccines that can prevent cancers. All children have had the Hepatitis B vaccine which protects against liver cancer, as it is given through the National Programme of Immunisation. But, and this is a BIG BUT, the only other vaccine, the HPV vaccine that can prevent cervical cancer, shows a rather low uptake.

We do need to escalate the uptake rate of the HPV vaccine to at least around 80 per cent to get reasonable benefits in the reduction of the morbidity and mortality that is currently seen in cervical cancer. I think we have to admit that due to very many reasons, the message has not gone through to the general population in the country. When inquiries are made from the mothers of eligible girls, the vast majority of them are not even aware of the existence of this vaccine and more importantly, the future beneficial potential of this endeavour. The age group selected is a rather tricky cohort. They get upset at the drop of a hat. The last thing they want is an injection. They will run away, as fast as possible, to avoid it. Some are so frightened that it is not uncommon to see them faint even at the sight of the syringe and the needle. One way of getting the cooperation of these little girls is to allow either the mother or the father to be present to hold her hand most reassuringly when the vaccine is administered. An additional initiative would be to make it widely available through the Immunisation Clinics for it to be administered to all those who have missed it when it was given in the school. This is particularly important as the vaccine is quite expensive when administered in the private sector.

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Latest position on debt restructuring process



By Jayampathy Molligoda

According to the announcement made by the Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF Executive board meeting will be held on 20 March to consider and hopefully approve the EFF arrangement for Sri Lanka. In the meantime, the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank in consultation with IMF have finalised the latest position of Sri Lanka’s Public Debt as at end 2022 just prior to commencement of debt restructuring negotiations with creditors. Having perused the document uploaded to the Ministry of Finance (MOF website) recently, which is a comprehensive summary of debt stock as at end 2022, I have tabulated the summary of the main facts and figures (See Table). As can be seen, the total public debt stock has skyrocketed to US $ 83.6 billion, which includes total foreign debt of US$ 45.6 billion and the local debt of 38 billion in US $ equivalent. The total debt as a % of GDP as stated in the above MOF doc is 128%. The public debt is expected be reduced to 100% of GDP in order to ensure debt sustainability in line with IMF supported program parameters coupled with ‘comparability of treatment principle’ whilst ensuring equitable burden sharing for all restructured debt.

However, I have my doubts about GDP computation here. As per the MOF doc page 1, the Nominal GDP was stated as Rs. 23.7 trillion for the year 2022. The $ exchange rate used for conversion as Rs.363.10 clearly indicating that it is the year end figure, they have taken the year end Exchange rate of Rs 363.10 per US$. It is pertinent to ask the question as to why ‘year- end exchange rate’ figure to convert our annual GDP in rupee to US dollars? It should have been the ‘average exchange rate’ as in the past so many years computed by CBSL. As a result, the GDP (in US$ terms) works out to US$ 65.2 billion only. That’s why the total public debt stock of US$ 83.6 billion works out to 128% of GDP – my initial query is; why did they take year-end figure of Rs363.10 instead of taking the average exchange rate?

Besides, the real critical issue is how to reduce the debt stock to a level of 100% of GDP in the context of declining GDP (- 7.8% in 2022) and on the other hand, our debt stock is on the rise. More importantly, if we take the total ‘multilateral debt’ out, then the foreign debt is US $ 34 billion only, which includes ISBs and bilateral loans. Assuming a higher ‘haircut’ of 33% for foreign debt is agreed upon, it works out to 11 billion thus reducing the total public debt to 73 billion only.

In this regard, The President in his latest open letter dated 14 March ‘23 to Sri Lanka’s official Bilateral creditors has clearly indicated that there will be equitable treatment of burden sharing in respect of all creditors (except IMF/WB/ADB) Quote; ” ..we reiterate our commitment to a comparable treatment of all our external creditors with a view to ensuring all round equitable burden sharing for all restructured debt. To that end, we will not conclude debt treatment agreements with any official bilateral creditor or any commercial creditors or any group of such creditors on terms more favourable than those agreed. …To this end we also confirm that we have not and we will not make any side agreements with any creditor aimed at reducing the debt treatment impact on that creditor.”

In the circumstances, my own view is we are reluctantly compelled to restructure local debt i.e.; TBs and, it is inevitable that the local debt of USD equivalent of 38 billion would also need to be taken into consideration for debt restructuring – otherwise there is no way of reducing the total public debt stock to the level that is required as per IMF conditions. This would create a serious issue for our ‘finance system stability’ and all our commercial banks will be in trouble. Further the deposit holders including pension funds are badly affected. The temperature of social unrest is brought closer to the boiling point.

As stated in the global research article by Jonathan Manz recently, former Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank, and Nobel Prize winner, Joseph Stiglitz, has slammed the IMF for unleashing riots on nations the IMF is dealing with; he has pointed out that the riots are written into the IMF plan to force nations to agree with the average 111 conditions laid down by the IMF and they destroy a country’s democracy and independence. He has been a critique of IMF causing great damage to countries through the economic policies it has prescribed countries to follow in order to qualify for IMF loans. However, neither Stiglitz nor any other eminent economist has yet to come out with a practical and alternative policy framework to overcome the most serious economic and financial crisis faced in the 75 years of Sri Lanka’s independence.

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