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Friday, August 12, 2022

Top US delegation to visit SL to help avert crisis

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<br>The delegation, which includes Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Asia Robert Kaproth and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Kelly Keiderling, will meet political representatives, economists and international organisations during their stay.

"In all their meetings, they will explore the most effective ways for the US to support Sri Lankans in need, Sri Lankans working to resolve the current economic crisis, and Sri Lankans planning for a sustainable and inclusive economy for the future," the US Embassy in Colombo said in a statement.

"This visit underscores our ongoing commitment to the security and prosperity of the Sri Lankan people," said US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung.

"As Sri Lankans endure some of the greatest economic challenges in their history, our efforts to support economic growth and strengthen democratic institutions have never been more critical," she added.

Over the past two weeks, the US has announced $120 million in new financing for Sri Lankan small and medium-sized businesses, a $27 million contribution to the island nation’s dairy industry and $5.75 million in humanitarian assistance to help those hit hardest by the worst-ever economic crisis.

The US has also committed $6 million in new grants to provide livelihood assistance to vulnerable populations, and technical assistance on financial reform that will help stabilize the economy.

In the coming months, Washington will continue to support Sri Lankans as they revive their economy, combat food insecurity, and promote public health and education, the Embassay reiterated.

The US also strongly supports Sri Lanka’s decision to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund, which can provide the most durable resolution to the present crisis, it added.<br> <br>The upcoming trip by the US officials comes on the heels of a one-day trip by an Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary of India Vinay Kwatra on Thursday.

The delegation met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other senior officials and discussed ways how India could provide bilateral assistance in the current crisis.

In the wake of the ongoing crisis, the worst since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, Colombo has sought support from various quarters, including neighbouring countries, as well as the US, Europe and the IMF.

An IMF team is currently in the island nation to conduct a week-long study to form relevant policies in detail to reach a staff-level agreement.

Visiting Colombo through June 30, the IMF delegation which has already met the President, Prime Minister and officials from the Finance Ministry and Central Bank of Sri Lanka has assured to assist the country.

Faced with severe forex shortage, Sri Lanka suspended payment on $12 billion debt in April and last week the UN warned that country’s "unprecedented economic crisis could develop into a dire humanitarian crisis, with millions already in need of aid".

The world body and its partners have appealed for $47 million to address the immediate needs of the 1.7 million of the most vulnerable people and those critically affected by the crisis.

–Ajit Weekly News<br>sfl/ksk/<br>

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