Sri Lanka prime minister retains finance minister portfolio

COLOMBO, May 25 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will hold dual charge as finance minister, the president’s office announced on Wednesday,and will lead talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout for the crisis-hit nation.

“Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as finance, economic stabilisation and national policies minister before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa this morning,” the statement from the president’s office said.

In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Wickremesinghe said he will present an interim budget within six weeks, slashing infrastructure projects to re-route funds into a two-year relief programme. read more

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

Sri Lanka, an island nation of 22 million people, has been hit by its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, with a severe shortage of foreign exchange stalling imports, including essentials such as fuel and medicines.

The turmoil is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the country’s lucrative tourism industry and weakened foreign workers remittances, and ill-timed tax cuts enacted by Rajapaksa.

Demonstrations have roiled Sri Lanka since late March, with protesters accusing the president and his powerful family of mishandling the economy.

Wickremesinghe – a political veteran who has previously been prime minister five times – was sworn in for a sixth term two weeks ago, after the president’s elder brother, Mahinda,…

Read more…