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Public appeal to cancel Sri Lanka’s debt

16 January, 2023Amid the country’s worst financial crisis, IndustriALL’s affiliates in Sri Lanka are demanding that the country’s debt is cancelled.

Echoing the call by over 180 economists and development experts across the globe to cancel Sri Lanka’s debt, IndustriALL’s affiliates are demanding that all bilateral, multilateral and private lenders share the burden of restructuring as the country cannot ensure this on its own and requires larger international support and solidarity.

Major lenders to Sri Lanka include Asian Development Bank, Japan, China and World Bank. Writing to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global labour organisations and workers’ rights groups, Anton Marcus, joint secretary of IndustriALL affiliate Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, said:

“Sri Lanka needs immediate relief from the external debt crisis. IMF must reach out to the lenders and create a responsible forum to help the country. The working class in Sri Lanka is in a pitiable state. Unfortunately, the government has failed to provide any relief to the poor in the 2023 budget.”

In a solidarity meeting organized by IndustriALL, affiliates voiced concerns about growing poverty coupled with increasing malnutrition among children and school dropouts due to unbearable economic hardship.

Affiliates demand that the government:

  • immediately withdraw indirect and direct taxes on all essential food items,
  • halt tariff increases immediately on power and energy
  • establish a national tri-partite council for economic reforms

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says:

“IndustriALL stands firmly with affiliates in Sri Lanka and fully support their demands. It is time for the international community to show its support by cancelling debts for a country where workers cannot afford two meals a day as the spiralling cost of living weighs heavily on them.”

Photo from a demonstration in Sri Lanka, 2022