Economic crisis hit Sri Lanka will not be holding a snap presidential election this year as the government wants to focus on debt restructuring, said Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena.
Denying speculations that the government might opt to hold a snap Sri Lankan president elections, Gunwardena said: “No election would be possible this year as the state finances have not improved.”
He went on to stress upon the government’s immediate focus which is centered on successfully ending the process of debt restructuring.
In July last year, the Sri Lankan Parliament elected former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President of the country to serve the remainder of ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term, which was supposed to end in November 2024.
Wickremesinghe got the job which he long coveted after his predecessor Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned after months of mass protests in the island nation.
Sri Lanka declared itself bankrupt in mid-April last year when the government defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt. The country plunged into its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948 due to plummeting foreign exchange reserves which led to severe shortages of essential items and triggered massive public protests.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 20 March approved a nearly USD 3 billion bailout facility to debt-ridden Sri Lanka to help stabalise the nation’s economy. It was, however, delayed due to the need to restructure debt.
Gunawardena said without restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt, it will not be possible to obtain any more foreign loans.
“Until we pay back the existing loans we will not be able to borrow”, he stressed.
For the unversed, Sri Lanka has a tight September deadline from the IMF to conclude its outstanding debt.
The opposition in Sri Lanka have also been criticising President Wickremesinghe for holding back the local council election. He, however, claims that the treasury was short of funds to allocate money for election expenditure.
Meanwhile, the opposition which has been blaming Wickremesinghe for postponing elections due to fear of losing has petitioned the highest court for intervention in the matter.
The election for 340 local councils was originally fixed for 9 March, but it has since been postponed indefinitely.