imf: Sri Lanka PM takes charge of crucial finance ministry, to lead IMF talks – Times of India

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s PM Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold dual charge as finance minister, the president’s office announced on Wednesday, and will lead talks with the International Monetary Fund as the crisis-hit nation seeks a bailout.
“PM Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as finance, economic stabilisation and national policies minister before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” a statement from the president’s office said. Ali Sabry, the previous finance minister who started talks with the IMF in April, quit in early May when the cabinet was dissolved after PM Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Wickremesinghe laid out his immediate plans for the economy, including presenting an interim budget within six weeks that will slash government expenditure “to the bone” and re-route funds into a two-year relief programme.
Sri Lanka, an island nation of 22 million people, is reeling under its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, with a severe shortage of foreign exchange severely curtailing imports, including essentials such as fuel and medicines. On Tuesday, the World Bank said it is not planning to provide any new financing to Sri Lanka until an adequate economic policy framework was put in place.
Wickremesinghe, 73,has been PM five times before the current appointment. He already has experience with the IMF — Sri Lanka last had an IMF programme in 2016 during one of his tenures as PM.

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