COLOMBO: Sri Lanka‘s newly appointed finance minister Ali Sabry, who resigned from the post within 24 hours of his appointment, returned to the position on Friday and was set to head the government’s negotiating team at the International Monetary Fund as the island nation struggles to combat the unprecedented shortage of foreign reserves.
Former justice minister Sabry told Parliament on Friday that he had resigned from the post to give way for someone more suitable to accept the post. However, since no one came forward to accept the post he decided to continue as the finance minister.
“I will remain as the Finance Minister to do the needful to save the economy,” Sabry told Parliament.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had appointed Sabry as the Finance Minister on April 4 after sacking his younger brother Basil Rajapaksa, who was at the centre of anger within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) coalition.
However, he submitted his letter of resignation to the President within 24 hours amid mass protests against the government over alleged economic mismanagement. President Rajapaksa had not accepted Sabry’s resignation.
The government issued a gazette with names of the 24 members of the Cabinet who had resigned last week to facilitate the Rajapaksa’s attempt to form a Unity cabinet with the Opposition. All Opposition parties, however, rejected the offer.
The Opposition backs the public protests happening all over the island, demanding the resignation of thepresident and the entire Rajapaksa family.
Sri Lanka is scheduled to start talks with the IMF on April 11. The talks would lead to a possible bailout, including assistance on restructuring foreign debt.
The European Union’s Colombo office on Friday in a statement underlined the importance of an IMF programme for the island’s economy.
“We stress the extreme urgency of the situation which requires the authorities to start in depth discussions with the International Monetary Fund on the reforms needed to bring the Sri Lankan economy back to a sustainable path,” it said.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948. An Indian credit line in a special economic relief package has only provided a temporary solution.
India had recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous USD 500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products. Article Source