Press Trust of India

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to make a fresh call for the formation of an all-party government for the cash-strapped country when Parliament takes up the debate on the IMF bailout programme next week, a senior opposition party leader said on Monday.

In March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $3 billion bailout programme to help Sri Lanka overcome its economic crisis and catalyse financial support from other development partners, a move welcomed by Colombo as a “historic milestone” in the critical period.

“He (Wickremesinghe) will make an open invitation to all political parties to join the national government when the Parliament meets on April 25 to debate on the IMF bailout programme,” Mano Ganesan, the leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, told the media.

President Wickremesinghe, also the country’s finance minister, is keen to win the approval of the 225-member assembly for the IMF bailout package, which is a timely antidote to Sri Lanka’s economic travails. In July last year, Wickremesinghe urged lawmakers from all political parties to put their differences aside and work towards lifting Sri Lanka out of the throes of the economic crisis.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party led by the powerful Rajapaksa family voted for Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party (UNP), as the president in July last year.  Wickremesinghe currently heads a cabinet of SLPP ministers. Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since its independence from Great Britain in 1948, triggered by a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.

In April last year, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis. Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s election commission said the local body polls, which were scheduled to be held on April 25, were postponed indefinitely due to an acute shortage of funds.



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