Sri Lankan president to present first budget since taking office

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesing will present his first budget today. Wickremesing took control of the country in July, after

Photo: AFP

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesing will present his first budget today.

Wickremesing took over the reins of the country in July, after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned and left the country following mass protests. Amid mass anti-government protests by opposition parties and civil society groups, Wickremesing will present its first budget. The police response to the protests has been criticized, with the opposition accusing them of exploiting controversial anti-terrorism laws.

Sri Lanka has recently been in the grip of a severe financial crisis. Colombo owes more than $50 billion to foreign lenders and in May failed to make interest payments on foreign debt for the first time in history. Meanwhile, monthly inflation has soared to more than 50% and people are struggling with regular shortages of food, fuel and medicine. Both the IMF and the World Bank have agreed grant conditional loans to the country.

In order to comply with IMF lending requirements, Wickremesing’s budget is expected to introduce debt restructuring measures as well as tax and interest rate hikes. This is likely to increase public discontent, risking further protests and political instability.

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