Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Finance Minister Ali Sabry, who resigned within 24 hours of his appointment, returned to the post on Friday and is said to lead the government’s negotiating team at the IMF as the island grapples with the unprecedented shortage of foreign exchange. reserves.
Former Justice Minister Sabry told parliament on Friday that he had resigned to make way for someone more suitable to take up the position. However, as no one came forward to accept the position, he decided to continue as finance minister.
“I remain the finance minister to do whatever is necessary to save the economy,” Sabry told parliament.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had appointed Sabry as finance minister on April 4 following the resignation of his younger brother Basil Rajapaksa, who had been the center of anger within the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) coalition.
However, he submitted his letter of resignation to the president within 24 hours amid massive protests against the government over alleged economic mismanagement. President Rajapaksa had not accepted Sabry’s resignation.
The government has issued a gazette listing the names of the 24 cabinet members who resigned last week to facilitate the Rajapaksa’s attempt to form a cabinet of unity with the opposition. However, all opposition parties rejected the offer.
The opposition supports the public protests taking place across the island and demands the resignation of the president and the entire Rajapaksa family.
Sri Lanka is scheduled to begin talks with the IMF on April 11. The talks would lead to a possible bailout, including assistance with foreign debt restructuring.
The European Union office in Colombo stressed in a statement on Friday the importance of an IMF program for the island’s economy.
“We underline the extreme urgency of the situation, which requires the authorities to begin in-depth discussions with the International Monetary Fund on the reforms needed to put Sri Lanka’s economy back on a sustainable path,” it said.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from the UK in 1948. An Indian credit line in a special economic emergency package has provided only a temporary solution.
India had recently announced a USD 1 billion credit line to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to cope with the economic crisis following an earlier USD 500 billion credit line in February to help the country purchase of petroleum products.
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