Colombo [Sri Lanka]: Even as Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has requested China to restructure its debt amid a severe economic crisis and shrinking foreign reserves, Beijing has chosen to maintain a deafening silence which reveals how disinterested the country is to extend a helping hand to the island nation at this need of the hour.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia on Wednesday, Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe, said, “We have informed the Chinese Government of the need to restructure the debt and the need for all the creditors to sing from the same hymn sheet.”
China, of course, has adopted a different approach and is keeping mum over the troubled situation Sri Lankans are staring at.
China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong who otherwise blamed other countries for not standing by Colombo is himself maintaining a “deafening” silence with regard to Wickremesinghe’s request to aid Sri Lanka to restructure its debt. He is pointing fingers at others but not doing enough to help Sri Lanka to overcome its current economic morass,” reported Ceylon Today.
On the other hand, India emerged as the first responder under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Neighbourhood First policy when Sri Lanka was left alone by its so-called benefactors for funding support.
India has responded with urgency to the government of Sri Lanka’s request for assistance in overcoming hardships and will enhance economic linkages between the two countries be it through infrastructure connectivity and renewable energy.
Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe also conceded that reaching International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal will be no simple task, reported The Morning.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement on the eve of its visit highlighted, albeit obliquely, that the China factor is set to shape Sri Lanka’s economic fortunes. On the prospects of giving Sri Lanka a multibillion-dollar bailout, the fund said, “Because Sri Lanka’s public debt is assessed as unsustainable, approval by the IMF Executive Board of the Extended Fund Facility programme would require adequate assurances by Sri Lanka’s creditors that debt sustainability will be restored.”
The Washington-based fund’s team will be in Colombo until the end of this month and called on Wickremesinghe on Thursday to discuss the current situation of the country’s economic crisis with it at present, reported The Morning.
During the meeting with President Wickremesinghe, the IMF delegates decided to hold further discussions with Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) officials on technical issues, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.
IMF Monetary and Capital Market Department Debt Capital Markets Division Chief Peter Breuer, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, President’s Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake, and CBSL Governor Dr Nanadalal Weerasinghe also joined the discussion, reported The Morning.
The meeting with the Head of State came after the delegates of the global lender kicked off discussions with Dr Weerasinghe in the morning, to finalise a staff-level agreement for a possible USD 3 billion bailout package, including restructuring debt of about USD 29 billion.
IMF’s Resident Representative for Sri Lanka Tubagus Feridhanusetyawan and Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana also participated in the talks at the Central Bank premises. (ANI)