Sri Lanka’s new prime minister on Monday proposed the privatization of the country’s loss-making national airline as part of reforms aimed at resolving the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
In a message to the people, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he planned to propose a special relief budget that would replace the development budget approved earlier this year, adding that it would channel funds previously allocated to the public for infrastructure development. Welfare
He said the country’s financial health was so bad that the government was forced to pay money to government employees and buy other goods and services.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Vikramasinghe as prime minister last Thursday in a bid to overcome the island nation’s political and economic crisis.
The president’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned as prime minister amid the May 9 violence that left nine dead and more than 200 injured. Protesters have demanded the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa family to take responsibility for leading the country to economic crisis.
For months, severe shortages of foreign exchange have forced Sri Lankans to wait in long lines to buy rare, essential items such as medicine, fuel, cooking gas and food. Government revenue has also declined.
Vikramasinghe said SriLankan Airlines lost about 12 123 million in FY 2020-2021, which ended in March, and its total losses exceeded 1 1 billion by March 2021.
“Even if we privatize SriLankan Airlines, it is a loss that we have to bear. You must be aware that it is a loss that must be borne by the poor people of this country who have never set foot on a plane,” said Vikramasinghe. .
Sri Lanka is almost bankrupt and has defaulted on about $ 7 billion in foreign debt payments this year, out of the $ 25 billion to be repaid by 2026. The country’s total external debt is $ 51 billion. The finance ministry says the country currently has only ব্যবহার 25 million in usable foreign reserves.
Vikramasinghe said about 75 75 billion is urgently needed to help people get what they need, but the country’s treasury is struggling to find even 1 billion.
The drug shortage is so severe that it is difficult to buy anti-rabies drugs and medicines to treat heart disease, he said.
“I have no intention of hiding the truth and telling lies to the public. Although this information is unpleasant and frightening, this is the real situation.
“We will face considerable challenges and adversity. However, this period will not be long,” he said, adding that the countries he has talked to have pledged to help in the next few months.