A high-level US delegation will visit economic crisis-hit Sri Lanka from Sunday
A high-level US delegation to visit Sri Lanka will arrive here on Sunday to meet with the country’s top leaders to help resolve the current economic crisis as the island nation, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, struggles to pay for the import of basic necessities, including food and fuel.
Sri Lanka is facing a severe currency crisis that forced the island nation to declare default on its international debt in April, becoming the first Asia-Pacific country in decades to default on its external debt.
The delegation representing the US Department of Treasury and the State Department is due to visit Sri Lanka from June 26-29, News First newspaper reported.
The delegation will include Robert Kaproth, assistant assistant secretary of the Treasury for Asia, and Ambassador Kelly Keiderling, assistant assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, he said.
Visitors will meet with a wide range of political officials, economists and international organizations, and explore the most effective ways for the United States to support Sri Lankans in need as Sri Lankans work to resolve the current economic crisis. and Sri Lankans planning a sustainable and inclusive economy for the future, the report says.
“This visit underscores our continued commitment to the security and prosperity of the people of Sri Lanka,” said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung.
“As Sri Lankans endure some of the greatest economic challenges in their history, our efforts to sustain economic growth and strengthen democratic institutions have never been more critical,” the envoy said.
Over the past two weeks, the United States has announced $120 million in new funding for Sri Lankan small and medium-sized businesses, a $27 million contribution to Sri Lanka’s dairy industry, and humanitarian assistance $5.75 million to help those hardest hit by the economic crisis.
In addition, the United States has also committed $6 million in new grants to provide livelihood assistance for vulnerable populations and technical assistance on financial reform that will help stabilize the economy.
In the months ahead, the United States will continue to support Sri Lankans as they revive their economy, fight food insecurity, and promote public health and education, the report said.
The United States also strongly supports Sri Lanka’s decision to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund, which can provide the most lasting solution to the current crisis.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, Mahinda Samarasinghe, recently met with President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
“Ambassador Mahinda Samarasinghe meets with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on June 13, 2022,” the Sri Lankan envoy posted on Twitter.
Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948, which has led to severe shortages of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel across the country.
After Colombo declared default in April, U.S. bank Hamilton Reserve, a holder of Sri Lankan bonds, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan for breach of contract.
Sri Lankans are languishing in long queues for fuel and cooking gas as the government is unable to find dollars to finance imports.
India’s credit lines for fuel and basic necessities have provided lifelines until ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) can lead to a possible bailout.
There have been street protests in Sri Lanka against the government since early April over its mishandling of the economic crisis.
On May 9, the political crisis saw the unleashing of violence with the death of 10 people, including a parliamentarian. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had to step down as prime minister amid political and economic turmoil.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)