Business & Economy

Sri Lanka to start IMF talks amid protests

New Delhi, Apr 17 (EFE).- Sri Lanka will start talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next week, on a plan to help the cash-strapped nation recover from a deepening crisis, government officials said Sunday, as tens of thousands of people continue to hold protests nationwide.

The delegation, comprising finance minister Ali Sabry, newly appointed Central Bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and treasury secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, will hold the discussions in Washington from April 19 to 24.

The Sabry-led team is expected to “explore the programs Sri Lanka can access from the IMF to face the current economic crisis,” a government source told EFE.

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka declared it cannot pay that $51 billion it has in foreign debt.

“The finance minister had been expecting to secure as much as $4 billion from the IMF, but it all depends on the discussions and how Sri Lanka wants to carry on its fiscal and other reforms,” the source added.

Sri Lanka’s severe lack of US dollars has affected imports of essential products, such as medicines, milk powder, and fuel.

People are forced to wait for hours to buy fuel and gas cylinders, while health officials told Efe they are struggling due to the shortage of medicines as the government has not allocated adequate funds for imports.

The shortages have caused widespread anger and triggered protests against president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government for over a week.

“Rajapaksas have not understood why people are against them and corruption,” said Lakshika Kalingage, a 38-year-old woman. told EFE.

“So all Rajapaksas should leave and no compromise on that. If it is not happening, you will find how these youths will force them to leave,” she said.

On Sunday morning, hundreds of Catholics took to the streets to protest the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings of churches and hotels, which was carried out by Islamist militants. They blame Rajapaksa for not carrying out a thorough investigation into the attack.EFE


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