ECONOMYNEXT – US financial support will be contingent on Sri Lanka asserting its sovereignty “against influence by the People’s Republic of China,” and improving human rights and promoting inter religious and ethnic reconciliation, a 900 billion dollar spending bill before the congress says.
The bill as amended by the US Senate mainly involves Coronavirus relief but also assistance to a number of foreign countries and other spending.
Future financial support for Sri Lanka will be available after the secretary of state certifies among others things that Sri Lanka acts to “assert its sovereignty against influence by the People’s Republic of China,” the Bill says.
Sri Lanka should also promote reconciliation between ethnic and religious groups, increase transparency and accountability in governance, “respect and uphold the rights and freedoms of the people of Sri Lanka regardless of ethnicity and religious belief” and bring perpetrators to justice, the bill said.
US and Western interests have warned that China is getting developing countries into a ‘debt trap’ by giving loans without adequate feasibility to generate returns, unlike more seasoned multilateral lending agencies.
The conditions however do not apply to any humanitarian or disaster relief, support to identify missing persons, improve human rights, promote fiscal transparency and sovereignty and international military education and training.
The US said it was also giving 15 million dollars to refurbish a coast guard cutter and another half a million dollars to for programs to support humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, instruction in human rights and related curricula development, and maritime security and domain awareness, including professionalization and training for the navy and coast guard.
Sri Lanka has already spurned a 480 million dollar grant from the US, Millennium Challenge Corporation which was requested by an administration that was defeated in a 2019 election.
The bill comes as the US itself is recovering from a bout of nationalism under President Donald Trump, who came to power claiming to make America great and denouncing alleged ‘elitist’ politics of the Washington ‘swamp’ and support from evangelists.
He was defeated with white males switching back to Democrats and helped black voters in several key states and a defeat in Arizona, where he insulted a widely respected Republican.
President Trump took his own party by surprise saying a 600 dollar payment to Americans should be made into 2,000. (Colombo/Dec27/2020)