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Prez says IMF talks in ‘final stage’, Nandalal hopeful of deal ’soon’

5 months ago

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  • Tokyo to co-ordinate with other creditors on SL debt
BY Buddhika Samaraweera   President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday (30) that the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached their “final stage”, while the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said that he is hopeful that a staff-level agreement with the IMF could be reached “soon”, one day ahead of the visiting IMF delegation’s departure from Sri Lanka. Presenting the interim Budget 2022 in Parliament yesterday (30), Wickremesinghe said: “We are now adopting short-term measures. Negotiations with the IMF have successfully reached their final stage. Discussions on debt restructuring will be held with the main countries that provide loan assistance to our country.” Claiming that the process of providing daily needs like gas, electricity, and fuel without a shortage has been initiated and that schools have reopened while the universities are commencing their academic activities, the President said that all such reflects that the country is on the correct course in the short term for recovery. “However, we cannot be complacent. We should prepare a national economic policy for implementation continuously, at least over a period of 25 years. This interim Budget forms the basic foundation for the national economic policy, which is envisaged to be established through the 2023 Budget,” he added. Speaking further, Wickremesinghe said that the interim Budget 2022 speech, the IMF agreement, and the Budget 2023 would set the framework for economic stabilisation and revival, within which, he said, the Government would set the relevant road map. Once the discussions with the IMF are concluded, he said that he expects to provide the information on the same to Parliament. Meanwhile, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said during an event yesterday that Sri Lanka has made “good progress” in the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “I can announce that we have made good progress in the negotiations with the IMF. Hopefully, we will be able to reach the first milestone, a staff-level agreement with the IMF soon,” he said during his address at the event. On 19 August, Dr. Weerasinghe said that Sri Lanka’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is making good progress and that an IMF delegation is expected to visit the island by the end of August to reach a staff-level agreement. "The IMF programme is making good progress. For example, the IMF mission is planning to visit Sri Lanka towards the end of this month to reach a staff-level agreement on a policy package,” Dr. Weerasinghe said. A delegation of the IMF last week held a meeting with the officials of the Finance Ministry, in which the President also participated virtually. Before the meeting, the delegates led by IMF Senior Mission Chief for Sri Lanka Peter Breuer called on Dr. Weerasinghe and President Wickremesinghe on 24 August. The IMF and Sri Lanka are expected to reach a staff-level agreement for a possible $ 3 billion bailout package, including restructuring debt of about $ 29 billion. Meanwhile, the visiting delegation of the IMF called on Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday morning. The delegation consisted of Mission Chief Peter Breuer, Deputy Chief Masahiro Nozaki, and IMF Resident Representative Dr. Tubagus Feridhanusetyawan. Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said yesterday that it was important for all creditor nations of Sri Lanka to gather to discuss Colombo’s debt issue, adding that Tokyo would co-ordinate with other creditors on the matter, Reuters reported. President Wickremesinghe told Reuters this month that Sri Lanka would ask Japan to invite the main creditor nations to talks on restructuring bilateral debts. Earlier on Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said his country was not in talks with Sri Lanka to hold such a meeting. “We are having various interactions with the Sri Lanka side, but no preparation is going on with Sri Lanka for holding such talks,” Hayashi told a news conference.