Sri Lanka’s future may not be so bleak: diplomat

Podcasts | Economy | South Asia

Conversation with economist Ganeshan Vignaraja.

Sri Lanka's future may not be so bleak
Credit: Luke Hunt

COLOMBO. Sri Lanka’s acting president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, declared another state of emergency ahead of the next meeting of parliament, with politicians promising to form an all-party government (APG) and elect a new president this week.

The next task will be to negotiate an IMF bailout, the country’s 17th since independence in 1948, and a debt restructuring totaling $51 billion while curbing hyperinflation, ending acute fuel shortages, and getting children back to school.

This is a big request.

Ganeshan Vignaraja is a world-renowned development economist. He is a visiting senior fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and a senior fellow at ODI Global in London.

Vignaraia spoke with Luke Hunt of The Diplomat about the fate of his country. He remains optimistic about the future of Sri Lanka and outlines the plan, including problems with investigating and initiating an asset recovery plan aimed at the wealth of the Rajapaksa family, who have ruled Sri Lanka for 17 years.

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There are also problems with China – the country’s third-largest creditor – and its ambivalence towards Sri Lanka, despite Colombo’s strategic position under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Previously, Vignaraja was Director of Research at the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo, Executive Director of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs think tank in Colombo, and IMF Visiting Fellow in Washington, DC.