IMF's Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath has met Sri Lanka's junior minister of finance Shehan Semasinghe and Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and held wide-ranging talks on the steps being undertaken by the government to tackle the island nation's "extreme challenges" on the economy front.
The Sri Lankan delegation, which also includes Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena, are currently in Washington to attend the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) annual sessions.
"Had an excellent discussion with Sri Lanka Minister Shehan Semasinghe @ShehanSema & @CBSL Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe on the extreme challenges the country faces and the concrete steps being taken to tackle them," Gopinath said in a tweet on Tuesday.
In September, the IMF announced it will provide Sri Lanka with a loan of about USD 2.9 billion over four years under a preliminary agreement to help the bankrupt island nation tide over its worst economic crisis.
Later that month, the Sri Lankan government led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said it will present its debt-restructuring and the IMF bailout plans to its creditors, including China.
Meanwhile, close to 9.6 million Sri Lankans have been affected by poverty, news portal newsfirst.lk reported, citing a study by the University of Peradeniya.
In 2019, nearly 3 million people lived below the poverty line, but that number has swelled to 9.6 million in October 2022, according to Professor Wasantha Athukorala of Peradeniya University's Department of Economics and Statistics.
Athukorala said the study revealed that 42 per cent of the people living in Sri Lanka are currently suffering from acute poverty, the report said.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948 which was triggered by a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.
In mid-April, Sri Lanka declared its international debt default due to the forex crisis.
The country owes USD 51 billion in foreign debt, of which USD 28 billion must be paid by 2027.
There have been street protests in Sri Lanka against the government since early April due to its mishandling of the economic crisis.
A crippling shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas, and other essentials while power cuts and soaring food prices have heaped misery on the people.
(With PTI inputs)