Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said today that he intends to call for a debate in Parliament on the present foreign exchange and the financial crisis faced by the country.
The Parliament is vested with the power of managing the finances of the country.
The Treasury and the Central Bank is subject to review by Parliament. Hence, it is appropriate to call for a debate on the matter, he said.
Mr Wickrememsinghe also said that if the government doesn’t take pragmatic and meaningful steps, there will be unemployment and an acute food shortage on top of that.
The former Prime Minister elaborating on the present crisis, said thus, “Sri Lanka is facing a severe foreign exchange and economic hardship today. Our foreign reserves have dwindled and stand at 4000 million US Dollars today. By mid-year (Presently), we have to settle the sovereign bonds issued by the Central Bank and thereby today we, are left only with 3000 million US dollars in the government kitty. In addition, the outstanding fuel bill amounts to US Dollars 1300 million.
Today our banks don’t have dollars the Banks and financial institutions are in debt the balance sheets of Commercial Banks have not come to light so far, but according to available statistics, the dues are around 3000 million US Dollars. So the total accumulated debt is 4300 million US Dollars, but we have only 3000 million US Dollars. We have to pay another 1000 million US Dollars before the end of this year for the maturing bonds in these circumstances what, are we left with
We have no way of importing goods, there is no foreign exchange to import fertilizer that is the reason why the government is pushing the farmers to use organic fertilizer and, there is no other compelling reason for this. The Inoculation against the Covid pandemic is also restricted to people above thirty once again because we have no foreign exchange to import the necessary vaccines. Although, there was a worldwide hunt to find the money. We did not get anything other than the soft loans we received which, we have to pay on time. Now the government is trying to find money to pay for the fuel vessel anchored in the seas off Colombo, and we are in deep crisis”.
The International Monetary Fund is disbursing funds through its facility among the member states. Sri Lanka, too will be a beneficiary and receive 800 million US Dollars as a grant.
In these circumstances, I suggest the government initiate a discussion with the IMF. Obtain the necessary funds sufficient for the next two years and restructure the economy accordingly. If the IMF underwrites a guarantee for Sri Lanka, other countries such as Japan, India and China will give loans to Sri Lanka.