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IMF praises India even as Ranil Wickremesinghe takes oath as finance minister


NEW DELHI:  Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday took oath as the 
finance minister. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was present during the swearing-in at the President’s house in Colombo.

The country is facing its worst economic crisis in which Wickremesinghe has to spruce up efforts to get grants, redirect funds and keep the citizens in the loop about the long road to recovery.

The PM said he would present an interim budget within six weeks and redirect funds from infrastructure projects into a two-year relief programme. He cautioned that inflation would skyrocket to 40% in the coming weeks, adding to the pressure on the people.

India has been pitching in with help and has extended over $3.5 billion as line of credit, which has facilitated the Lankans to get continuous supply of essential products like fuel and medicines. At Davos, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva complimented India’s efforts. “Our technical team is on the ground trying to assess the situation and see how it can be managed. I would also like to express gratitude to India for being a good friend of Sri Lanka and advocating for Sri Lanka in such difficult times,’’ said Georgieva.

“We all need to be increasingly concerned about the growing economic divergence in various economies. Rather than catching up with the better off, poor countries are falling further behind,’’ the IMF chief said at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.

For  his part, Wickremesinghe said he was in touch with global financial organisations. He has also announced a debt restructuring plan. Wickremesinghe is also in talks with USAID and IMF for bailout packages. “I spoke to USAID administrator Samantha Powers, who pledged support and assured us to work closely with other stakeholders such as the IMF, the World Bank and the G7,’’ the PM tweeted.