Update: April 17, 2022 8:03 p.m. STI
Colombo [Sri Lanka]April 17 (ANI): Amid the current economic crisis and widespread protests against the government, a four-member Sri Lankan delegation led by new Finance Minister Ali Sabry departed for Washington for initial talks with the Monetary Fund International (IMF) and the World Bank for a possible bailout.
The four-member delegation includes Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe and Finance Ministry Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, in addition to the finance minister himself, Colombo Page reported.
Earlier, a high-level delegation, including the central bank governor and other senior officials, attended an IMF meeting in Washington on April 9.
Former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa was due to travel to Washington for the meeting with the IMF to seek debt restructuring and a bailout, however, following the Sri Lankan cabinet’s mass resignation on April 3, Ali Sabry has been named the new finance minister. minister and will therefore lead the Sri Lankan delegation.
The meeting comes about a month after the IMF released the staff report on the Article IV consultations held between IMF and Sri Lankan officials earlier.
The IMF had made the recommendations in its staff report to the board of the global lender following the conclusion of its Article IV consultation with Sri Lanka.
The IMF noted that the country faces growing challenges, including public debt that has reached unsustainable levels, low foreign exchange reserves and still large financing needs in the coming years.
The report recommends implementing a credible and coherent strategy to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability while protecting vulnerable groups and reducing poverty through strengthened and well-targeted social safety nets.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in a nationwide address on March 20, said he had given the green light to an IMF program after meeting with senior officials from the lender in Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s economy has been under pressure since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A crash in the tourism sector was followed by a crash in the agricultural sector after the government decided to ban all chemical fertilizers in a bid to make the island nation’s agriculture entirely organic.
Sri Lanka is facing a shortage of foreign exchange, which has affected its ability to import food and fuel, and led the country to default on its external debt. (ANI)