Sri Lanka will restart bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August, its new president says, calling on the legislators to form an all-party government to resolve the country’s worst economic crisis in 70 years.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe made the remarks during his speech to open a new session of the parliament on Wednesday.
Wickremesinghe has been leading talks with the IMF to secure a four-year bailout programme that could provide up to $3bn. He told parliament the negotiations were progressing but did not provide a timeline for when a deal would be finalised.
The 73-year-old, who was propelled to power last month after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa was forced to flee the country and resign after months of protests, said the financial meltdown had turned into a serious political crisis.
“Today we are facing an unprecedented situation that our country had never faced in recent history,” he said. “We are in great danger.”
Wickremesinghe said constitutional amendments were required to curtail presidential powers – indicating he would meet a key demand of protesters who forced out Rajapaksa.
He added that his government is preparing a national policy roadmap for the next 25 years that aims to cut public debt and turn the country into a competitive export economy.
“If we build the country, the nation and the economy through the national economic policy, we would be able to become a fully developed country by the year 2048, when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of independence,” Wickremesinghe said.