IMF reviews vote on account

By Natasha Gunaratne

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is looking into the implications of the government's decision to hold a vote-on-account this year instead of the normal budget, a spokesperson said.

The government announced on Thursday it would present a vote-on-account instead of a budget in view of pending parliamentary elections.

Governor Cabraal

The IMF spokesperson in Washington told the Sunday Times it was discussing the implications of the vote-on-account move with the government and what it might mean in the context of the IMF programme.

Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said there would not be any conflict, claiming that the vote-on-account was part of the budget.

He said the budget was normally prepared for 12 months whereas the vote-on-account was for a few months. Mr. Cabraal said the conditions of the September agreement with the IMF for the loan of US$ 2.6 billion loan had been fulfilled.

Meanwhile the IMF is re-opening its Colombo office next week, more than two years after it was closed, with the new resident representative Koshy Mathai, an India-American economist, due to arrive today, Central Bank officials said.

In line with earlier protocol, the Central Bank will provide the supporting staff –a secretary and driver – to the new representative with office space also provided in the Bank building.

The IMF closed its office in February 2007 with Luis Valdivieso as the Fund's senior resident representative for Sri Lanka saying that this was due to budget cuts and there was no programme with Sri Lanka at that time.

The main opposition UNP and other critics have alleged that the vote of account was a move to hoodwink the IMF and the people of Sri Lanka to achieve the government’s own political agenda.

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