Colombo, May 25: The Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn-in as the Minister of Finance, Economic Stabilization and National Policies by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday.
This gives further stability to the government’s economic policies because Wickremesinghe is the author of the current recovery plan. He is not a finance man but is naturally interested and well informed on economic and financial matters due to decades of experience in parliament, in the cabinet and as six times Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, on Monday the cabinet cleared the path to borrow US$500 million from India afresh to purchase fuel with a proposed seven-year payback period. The loan is being sought from the Exim Bank of India. The government will be requesting a stretched payback period of seven-years with a grace period for the loan, when compared to one-year payback period for earlier credit lines.
Earlier, the country received two fuel credit lines from India including US$ 500 million from the Exim Bank of India and another US$ 200 million from State Bank of India.
World Bank’s Condition for lending
On Tuesday the World Bank said that until an adequate macro-economic policy framework is in place, it does not plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka.
“Recent media reports have inaccurately stated that the World Bank is planning support for Sri Lanka in the form of a bridge loan or new loan commitments, among other incorrect assertions.”
“We are concerned for the people of Sri Lanka and are working in coordination with the IMF and other development partners in advising on appropriate policies to restore economic stability and broad-based growth. Until an adequate macroeconomic policy framework is in place, the World Bank does not plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka.”
“We are currently repurposing resources from previously approved projects to help the government with some essential medicines, temporary cash transfers for poor and vulnerable households, school meals for children of vulnerable families, and support for farmers and small businesses,” the bank said.
Main Opposition Party’s Conditions for Support
On Wednesday, the main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) decided to participate in the government subjected to conditions, SJB MP Eran Wickramaratne said yesterday.
“The working committee affirmed the decision that we are ready to participate in government if President agrees to change the Executive Presidential system,” MP. Wickramaratne told Daily Mirror.
“We appeal to friendly countries to assist with the necessary essentials of Gas, Fuel, Medicines and food. We will also bring forward legislation to minimise bribery and corruption, and recover stolen assets,” he said.
However, two SJB members, Harin Fernando and Manusha Nanayakkara, have already joined the government as Ministers.