Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a meeting with representatives of mixed chambers on Thursday, explained that the government was targeting $5 billion for repayments and $1 billion to bolster the country’s reserves.
During the meeting, Wickremesinghe clarified that discussions with the International Monetary Fund were continuing and hoped that negotiations would conclude this month.
He further explained that debt restructuring has already started, following the appointment of financial and legal advisors.
The Sri Lankan prime minister said any bridge financing to help ease the crisis was dependent on reaching an agreement with the IMF.
Further commenting, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said talks were continuing with donor countries. He added that relations with Japan had broken down and it would take some time to restore those relations and regain their trust.
Regarding the shortage of medicines, the Prime Minister explained that the former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, who was appointed on May 19 to coordinate relief efforts for the island nation, was leading the international call for emergency medical supplies.
Addressing the issue of food shortage, the Prime Minister explained that obtaining fertilizer and developing a food security program were given equal priority. He explained that in case of surplus crops, these would be provided to vulnerable groups at a preferential rate.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Sri Lanka eased import restrictions on 369 items in March and April this year.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies, issued a notice in the Official Gazette on the easing, the ministry said in a press release.
Previously, those who wanted to import any of the 369 items had to obtain an import license, and the decision to restrict the import was taken to reduce foreign currency expenditure on foreign goods.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence with food and fuel shortages, soaring prices and power cuts affecting large numbers of citizens, leading to massive protests over the handling of the situation by the government.
The recession is attributed to currency shortages caused by a drop in tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reckless economic policies, such as the government’s decision last year to ban chemical fertilizers in a bid to make Sri Lankan agriculture ‘100%’. ORGANIC”.
Due to a severe shortage of foreign exchange, Sri Lanka recently defaulted on all of its external debt amounting to approximately $51 billion.
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