Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Opposition and the media report alleged on Sunday March 27 that the government is misusing $1 billion short term concessional loan facility offered by India to import food, medicines and other essential commodities, to help party supporters to win future elections.
The national media reported that the credit facility extended by the State Bank of India is being used to set up 14,000 home shops run by female entrepreneurs, from the families supporting the ruling party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lead by Rajapaksas.
The country’s main opposition accused the government of misusing the loan facility extended by India to provide immediately essential commodities in the backdrop where imported food, fuel and medicine are scare and prices have skyrocketed due to dollar crunch.
Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa told in parliament that the SLPP is trying to set up home shops in 14,000 villages to fulfill its political interest by misusing this Indian aid. “I say this with responsibility,” Premadasa reiterated.
A project initiated by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, home shops in rural areas are to fulfill the needs of food items and non-food products including clothing and household items for villagers who are far away from cities.
The essential commodities which are to be purchased from India with the use of the credit-line are to be distributed through home shops in villages and shop owners are expected to payback after selling them keeping profit margins.
Additionally, food coupons worth Lankan Rs 2,000 (about $7) are to be distributed among ruling party members to purchase food and non-food items from the home shops.
The media report indicated that a sum of LKR 15 billion (around $51 million) had been allocated for the project for which the Finance Minister has sent letters to all electoral organisers of the ruling party requesting them to nominate the prospective recipients from their villages.
The hidden agenda of the project is to indirectly influence village level support for the party in a possible local government or provincial council elections which are overdue, analysts stated.