'Talks with IMF progressing…July will be difficult': Sri Lanka's Wickremesinghe

Published on Jul 18, 2022 06:02 PM IST

Sri Lankans have been protesting against the skyrocketing inflation, widespread and prolonged power cuts and shortages of essential goods, like fuel and food, since April.

A man wears a headband with a slogan against interim Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe as he waves the Sri Lankan national flag near the Presidential secretariat in Colombo on Sunday.(AFP)
A man wears a headband with a slogan against interim Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe as he waves the Sri Lankan national flag near the Presidential secretariat in Colombo on Sunday.(AFP)

Sri Lanka acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday assured the public that talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a bailout in view of the economic crisis in the country were nearing conclusion. Wickremesinghe - sworn-in last week after president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled and quit from Singapore - also declared an 'emergency' earlier in the day and urged political parties in the island nation to set aside their differences and work towards all-party government to help the Sri Lankan economy recover.

A statement from his office said: "Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nearing conclusion and discussions for assistance with foreign countries are also progressing." Lanka is seeking help from the IMF and other creditors, but top officials cited by the Associated Press said finances were so poor that even getting a bailout is difficult,

Lanka today also received a shipment of fuel - which will provide welcome relief to locals amid a crippling shortage. "Diesel stocks have been secured and are being distributed, whereas petrol will be distributed from July 21 onwards," the acting president's office said.

Wickremesinghe's statement did, however, caution July will remain a 'difficult month'.

Sri Lankans have been protesting against the skyrocketing inflation, widespread and prolonged power cuts and shortages of essential goods, like fuel and food, since April.

Rationing of essentials has been in place for weeks now, with photographs and videos of lines outside grocery stories and fuel stations widely shared online.

One such video - shared by a BBC reporter - shows the deteriorating situation. The time-lapse clip shows a five-kilometre line in front of a fuel station. "It can take over 10 days to reach the fuel station," the journalist tweeted.

Essentially, Sri Lanka has run short of money to pay for the import of basic necessities for its 22 million people. Economic hardships led to protests and political upheaval, first forcing Mahinda Rajapaksa (ex prime minister) and the cabinet to resign and then the reviled Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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