Credit line

SL oppn says ruling party is misusing India’s credit line to win polls

Colombo, March 27 (IANS): The Sri Lankan opposition and media report on Sunday alleged that the government was abusing the billion dollar short-term concessional loan facility offered by India to import food, medicine and other essential products to help party supporters win future elections.

National media has reported that the credit facility provided by the State Bank of India is being used to set up 14,000 home-based shops run by female entrepreneurs, drawn from families supporting the ruling party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by Rajapaksas.

The country’s main opposition has accused the government of abusing India’s loan facility to provide immediate essentials amid tight supplies of imported food, fuel and medicine and rising prices. skyrocketed due to the dollar crisis.

Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told parliament that the SLPP was trying to set up door-to-door shops in 14,000 villages to satisfy its political interests by misusing this Indian aid. “I say this with responsibility,” Premadasa reiterated.

A project initiated by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, door-to-door stores in rural areas are to meet food and non-food needs, including clothing and household items for villagers far from cities.

The essential commodities which are to be procured in India with the use of the line of credit are to be distributed through door-to-door shops in the villages and the shop owners are to repay after selling them keeping their profit margins.

In addition, food stamps worth 2,000 Lankan rupees (about $7) are to be distributed to ruling party members to purchase food and non-food items from door-to-door stores.

The media report said that a sum of LKR 15 billion (about $51 million) had been allocated for the project for which the Minister of Finance sent letters to all election organizers of the ruling party asking them to appoint potential beneficiaries in their villages.

The hidden agenda of the project is to indirectly influence party support at the village level in possible local government or provincial council elections which are overdue, analysts said.