Colombo: Sri Lanka is not in the position to hold a snap presidential election this year because of the ongoing economic crisis and the government’s focus is on debt restructuring, Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said earlier this week.
“No election would be possible this year as the state finances have not improved”, Gunawardena said while responding to speculation that the government might opt to hold a snap presidential election. He said the government’s focus, for now, is centred on successfully ending the process of debt restructuring.
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the President of Sri Lanka by the Parliament to serve the remainder of ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, which was supposed to end in November 2024.
The IMF extended a nearly USD 3 billion bailout facility to debt-ridden Sri Lanka to help stabilize the country’s economy after it was jolted by a devastating economic crisis last year.
“Without restructuring our debt it will not be possible to obtain any more foreign loans”, Gunawardena, also the Minister of Transport and Highways and Minister of Mass Media, said, citing the example of 53 million dollars needed for improving the roads infrastructure.
“Until we pay back the existing loans we will not be able to borrow”, he stressed. Sri Lanka has a tight September deadline from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to conclude its outstanding debt.
Last year, Sri Lanka plunged into its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948 due to plummeting foreign exchange reserves that caused severe shortages of essential items and triggered massive public protests.