A delegation headed by Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ali Sabry kicked off formal talks with the IMF in Washington on Monday.
Sri Lanka has requested the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for rapid financial assistance and the global lender could consider it after initial reluctance, an aide to the country’s finance minister said on Tuesday.
Protests have erupted in the island nation as it battles a devastating financial crisis brought by the effects of COVID-19, mismanaged government finances and rising prices of fuel that have sapped foreign reserves.
A delegation headed by Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ali Sabry kicked off formal talks with the IMF in Washington on Monday for a programme the government hopes will help top up its reserves and attract bridge financing to pay for essential imports of fuel, food and medicines.
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“The (foreign minister) made a request for a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to mitigate the current supply chain issues, yet initially IMF of the view that it doesn’t meet their criteria,” Sabry’s aide Shamir Zavahir said on Twitter.
“However, India subsequently made representations on an RFI for (Sri Lanka) as well and IMF may consider this request due to the unique circumstances.”
Sri Lanka is seeking $3 billion in the coming months from multiple sources including the IMF, the World Bank and India to stave off the crisis, Sabry told Reuters earlier this month.
Last week, the country’s central bank said it was suspending repayment on some of its foreign debt pending a restructure.
In the commercial capital Colombo, protests demanding the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa have dragged on for more than a week.
Seven more people have died of Covid-19 in Shanghai, the second consecutive day the city reported deaths, as China’s financial hub continues to battle an outbreak that has put its residents under a prolonged lockdown, sparked resentment over supply problems and affected business. The elderly patients were aged between 60 years and 101 years, and all of them suffered from underlying medical conditions. The Covid-19 death toll in China now stands at 4,648.
Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has raised the price of 92 octane petrol to LKR 338 per litre – an increase of LKR 84. CPC’s new price now matches the per litre price of Lankan Indian oil company (LIOC). This is CPC’s second price hike in a month, while LIOC’s yesterday was the fifth in six months. The fuel price hikes come as public agitation against president Gotabaya Rajapaksa entered its eleventh day Tuesday.
As protesters continue to demonstrate anger amid dire economic challenges, Sri Lanka’s parliament is expected to reconvene on Tuesday amid speculation over a no trust vote. On Monday, president Gotabaya Rajapaksa admitted that patience among the citizens was wearing thin, and that it was justified. On Monday, a new cabinet was sworn in ahead of key talks with the IMF. Critics have said the government dragged its feet in approaching the IMF.
Days of protests sparked by a far-right group’s burning of the Islamic holy book of Quran have turned violent in several cities in Sweden. Officials in the country have also condemned the violence. Tensions were witnessed in several parts of the country as the demonstrations turned violent. Around 26 police officers and 14 civilians have been injured in the riots, reported news agency AP, quoting police officials. Reportedly, over 20 police vehicles were also torched.
Israel carried out its first air strikes on the Gaza Strip in months early Tuesday in response to a rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave as tensions soar after a weekend of violence around a Jerusalem holy site. Warning sirens sounded in southern Israel Monday night after the rocket was fired from the enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, the first such incident since early January.