Sri Lankan Prime Minister begins talks with visiting IMF team in Sri Lanka

Ranil Wickremesinghe - Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. (BLOOMBERG / Buddhika Weerasinghe)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visiting Sri Lanka is currently holding discussions with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The PM’s Media Division said that a ten-member delegation that arrived in Sri Lanka today is currently holding talks with the Prime Minister.

The IMF team is on a visit to the island for talks on a bailout programme as Sri Lanka is battling its worst financial crisis since independence in 1948.

The IMF team, visiting Colombo through June 30, will continue recent talks on what would be Sri Lanka’s 17th rescue programme, the IMF said on Sunday.

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

Colombo hopes the IMF visit, overlapping with debt restructuring talks, will yield a quick staff-level agreement and a fast track for IMF board disbursements. But that typically takes months, while Sri Lanka risks more shortages and political unrest.

Bondholders expect the IMF visit to give clarity on how much debt Sri Lanka can repay and what haircuts investors may have to take.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said this month an IMF programme is crucial to access bridge financing from sources such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Representatives from Sri Lanka’s financial and legal advisors, Lazard and Clifford Chance, are also in Colombo.