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IMF team lands in Colombo--Sri Lanka finally starts talks on a rescue package

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IMF team in Sri Lanka for talks

Cash strapped Sri Lanka has started the much awaited talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue package. The IMF team arrived in Colombo on Monday and talks are likely to continue till the month-end.

“Today, I met the visiting IMF Team and commenced discussions. Looking forward to reaching a staff level agreement and finalizing the program soon,” Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted.

Wickremesinghe is also aggressively seeking investments from other countries including India to support the economy.

The island nation with a population of 22 million is facing its worst economic crisis. Food and fuel shortages have hit the country.

“We reaffirm our commitment to support Sri Lanka at this difficult time, in line with the IMF’s policies,” IMF said in a statement.

Also read: Govt offices in Sri Lanka shut from tomorrow as the country is left with no fuel

Barring India, few countries have offered assistance to Sri Lanka. Recently, Australia came forth, providing $50 million to the bankrupt country.

Amid acute fuel shortage, public sector offices and schools have been shut down. Students in both government and private schools in Colombo and its outskirts would move to online classes.

Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe said an interim budget will be presented outlining the economic roadmap.

The UN has warned that Sri Lanka could be staring at a full blown humanitarian crisis.

“We are concerned that this could develop into a full-blown humanitarian emergency, and we are taking action to address that concern,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN humanitarian agency OCHA, said.