Sri Lanka is in heavy debt and has been confronting a financial crisis for a long time. Due to this, now the country has begun a two-week shutdown, followed by closed schools and halted all non-essential services. The country took this step to conserve fast-depleting fuel reserves. The International Monetary Funds opened the talks with Colombo on the possible bailout.
The country of an around 22 million population is running out of dollars to finance even the most essential imports, including fuel.
On Monday, schools were shut down, and the government offices worked with the skeleton staff as per the government plan to reduce communication and save fuel, including petrol and diesel. Hospitals and other essential services were still in operation.
The country was in $51 billion in foreign debt in April and went cap-in-hand with the IMF (International Monetary Fund).
“The first in-person talks with the IMF on Sri Lanka’s bailout request commenced in Colombo on Monday and will continue for 10 days”, the lender and the government said in a statement.
New Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe, who holds the position after the Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned due to the economic crisis, was also due to meet Australian Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil to “Deepen cooperation and assist Sri Lanka as the country very difficult crisis time”, Canberra said in a statement.
Due to the high inflation and lengthy power blackouts, the country faced months of protest. Police arrested 21 student activists in this case who were caught blocking gates to the presidential secretariat building.
The shutdown order came last week after the United Nations announced its emergency response to feeding thousands of pregnant women who were facing food shortages.
Four out of five people in Sri Lanka started skipping meals as they could not afford food, said the UN.