Updated: Apr 17, 2022 20:03 IST
Colombo [Sri Lanka], April 17 (ANI): Amid the ongoing economic crisis and widespread protests against the government, a four-member Sri Lankan delegation led by the newly appointed Finance Minister Ali Sabry has left for Washington for initial discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for a possible bailout.
The four-member delegation includes the Governor of the Central Bank Dr Nandalal Weerasinghe and Finance Ministry Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, apart from the Finance Minister himself, the Colombo Page reported.
Earlier, a high-level delegation, including the Central Bank Governor and other senior officials had attended an IMF meeting in Washington on April 9.
Former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was scheduled to visit Washington for the meeting with IMF to seek a debt re-restructuring and a bailout, however, following the en masse resignation of the Sri Lankan cabinet on April 3, Ali Sabry was appointed as the new Finance Minister and will consequently lead the Sri Lankan delegation.
The meeting comes about a month after the IMF released the Staff Report of the Article IV consultations held between IMF and Sri Lankan officials earlier.
The IMF had made the recommendations in its staff report made for the global lender’s Executive Board following the conclusion of its Article IV consultations with Sri Lanka.
The IMF noted that the country faces mounting challenges, including public debt that has risen to unsustainable levels, low foreign currency reserves, and persistently large financing needs in the coming years.
The report recommended implementing a credible and coherent strategy to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability while protecting vulnerable groups and reducing poverty through strengthened, well-targeted social safety nets.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a national address on March 20 said that he had given the go-ahead for an IMF program after meeting senior staff of the lender in Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s economy has been under pressure since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A crash in the tourism sector was followed by a crash in the agriculture sector after the government’s move to ban all chemical fertilizers in a bid to make the Island country’s agriculture fully organic.
Sri Lanka is facing a foreign exchange shortage, which has affected its capacity to import food and fuel, as well as resulted in the country defaulting on its foreign debt. (ANI)