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Sri Lanka receives first tranche of IMF bailout



Rescue packages arrive as the island nation grapples with its worst economic crisis in 70 years.

Sri Lanka has received the first tranche of its bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament.

“This paves the way for Sri Lanka to have better fiscal discipline and better governance,” Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday.

The first $330 million tranche comes after the IMF approved a $3 billion rescue package for the crisis-hit island on Monday.

Economic mismanagement and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic left Sri Lanka short of dollars for essential imports early last year, sending the country into its worst financial crisis since independence. The crisis has left Sri Lankans struggling with a rising cost of living, high income taxes of up to 36 percent and a 66 percent increase in energy rates.

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Colombo, said earlier this week that the president plans to use the first tranche of IMF money in areas hardest hit by the crisis, including health care and tourism.

The backing of China, Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral creditor, earlier this month cleared the final hurdle to receive the bailout.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency on Wednesday, state finance minister Shehan Semasinghe said Sri Lanka will hold restructuring talks with creditors to restore debt sustainability “as soon as possible”.

Sri Lanka has received 17 rescues in its history, including three since the end of a decades-long civil war in 2009.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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