Conflicts & War

Sri Lankan prime minister takes charge of finance portfolio amid crisis

Colombo, May 25 (EFE).- Sri Lanka’s recently appointed prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Wednesday took charge of the finance ministry while trying to find a way out of the severe economic and political crisis affecting the nation.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Wednesday morning at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence as the new minister of finance, economic stability and national policy, portfolios that he would combine with the prime minister’s post, which he occupied after Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda Rajapaksa had to resign on May 9 amid a wave of violence.

Wickremesinghe heading the country’s economic and financial system could help Sri Lanka in securing a credit line from the International Monetary Fund, which would contribute to easing the grave economic crisis that has disrupted life on the island, with an inflationary spiral and shortage of fuel and other basic necessities reaching a peak.

Wickremesinghe has “some 30 years of experience in similar roles, where he routinely retained economic affairs and national planning under him as prime minister and had a close watch over the finance ministry,” political analyst Aruna Kulatunga told EFE.

He added that the task of rebuilding Sri Lanka amid a serious economic crisis was not a novel situation for the 73-year-old leader, who has occupied the prime minister’s post for the sixth time.

“Each time, Wickremesinghe took over these roles it was after the previous government ran down the coffers and he had to rebuild the economy,” Kulatunga said.

However, this is the first time the leader has to try and rescue a completely bankrupt economy.

This year Sri Lanka has been hit by its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, reflected in a months-long shortage of medicines, food and fuel, and aggravated by dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Inflation hit the record 30 percent mark in April as per latest data provided by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan authorities have been trying to negotiate a possible bailout by the International Monetary Fund, after temporarily suspending the payment of their foreign debt in April. EFE


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