Sri Lanka accuses IMF of playing politics

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka on Friday accused the International Monetary Fund of politicizing financial aid following the fund’s delay in considering a 1.9-billion-dollar bailout for the war-ravaged economy.

“Never ever has the IMF taken political factors into account. Now, it seems for the first time they are doing that — indirectly,” Sri Lankan Trade Minister G.L. Peiris told AFP in Washington ahead of talks with fund officials.

Sri Lanka tapped the IMF for aid in March in a bid to stave off its first balance of payment deficit in four years after the island’s foreign currency reserves fell to around six weeks’ worth of imports.

The loan has been put off due to political pressure from the United States, Britain and other Western nations over Colombo’s handling of the final stages of a battle against Tamil separatists and charges that thousands of civilians were killed.

The Tamil Tigers were defeated last month.

Peiris said the IMF and Sri Lankan authorities had completed what he called “tactical discussions” over the 1.9-billion-dollar standby facility as early as April but that the fund’s board had still not met to consider the issue.

“So we think that it is wrong and, apart