Acting Finance Minister of Sri Lanka, Shehan Semasinghe, announced on Thursday that negotiations for the second tranche of funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are progressing positively. The minister’s remarks came during a press conference at the Presidential Media Centre under the theme ‘Collective Path towards a Stable Country’.
Semasinghe emphasized that the government’s economic reform efforts are currently under evaluation by the IMF. He noted that discussions to finalize the staff level agreement required for receiving the second instalment are anticipated to take place after President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official visit to Germany.
He further revealed that President Wickremesinghe recently held crucial discussions with the IMF team currently in Sri Lanka, during which they conducted a special assessment of the country’s economic situation. The IMF team expressed appreciation for the economic reforms undertaken thus far.
The minister said, “The IMF team has provided a positive review of Sri Lanka’s current financial situation. We believe that, after reaching a staff level agreement, future work will proceed robustly.”
Semasinghe highlighted some of the country’s economic improvements over the past year, including a remarkable growth in government revenue by 43%. He attributed this growth to the process of tax collection and focusing on individuals who are obligated to pay taxes. The IMF has also directed its attention towards government tax revenue.
He also shed light on the local debt optimization program which is nearing its completion and mentioned that discussions regarding foreign loans are already in progress with all creditors.
Despite these positive developments, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa criticized the government’s handling of the economy on Thursday. Speaking at an event in Akkaraipattu, Premadasa claimed that the government has failed to fulfill their task of restoring economic stability. He further alleged that the government has not achieved its revenue targets, a claim that the IMF has also made.
Despite the criticism, Semasinghe remained optimistic about the country’s economic future. He concluded, “As a nation, our path forward should prioritize sustainable economic growth and a positive mind-set is crucial. Economic reforms, which should have been initiated two decades ago, are now in progress. If the President’s economic reform program continues on this trajectory, Sri Lanka can evolve into a nation with a robust economy in the future.”
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