IMF hopes to complete Sri Lanka aid talks ‘as quickly as possible’


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) hopes to complete rescue talks with Sri Lanka “as quickly as possible,” Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday, hours before the crisis-hit South Asian nation elected a new president.

Speaking with Nikkei Asia in Tokyo, Georgieva said the fund was “very deeply concerned about the well-being of the people in Sri Lanka,” which has been gripped by severe shortages of fuel, food and other essentials after its foreign reserves dried up.

Frustrated citizens have turned their anger on the Government, clouding the outlook for debt restructuring and driving once-powerful President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go into exile and resign last week.

Georgieva vowed that “the moment there is a Government that we can continue our discussions with, our team will be there.” She added that she was “very hopeful that based on the good technical work we have already done, and the fact that this technical team of Sri Lanka is there, we can complete program negotiations as quickly as possible.”

Georgieva said that the IMF would work with any Sri Lankan administration “as long as the next leader enjoys support and has the longevity to lead the country.”

“What we would need for the programme is financial assurances that will be sustainable, not immediately, but that we have a credible plan to get to that point,” Georgieva said. She added that the incoming Government has “a very important role to play, reaching out to both bilateral creditors and private-sector creditors.”

Sri Lanka’s large creditors include Japan, China and India. Georgieva said that she has discussed the situation with the countries during her Asia trip, and was encouraged because “there is an understanding that protracted negotiations are simply not viable, that there has to be decisive action as early as the weeks after a [new] Government is in place.”

Nikkei Asia