Crisis-stricken Sri Lanka swears by 37 secretaries of state, two of them for finance

Crisis-stricken Sri Lanka swears by 37 secretaries of state, two of them for finance

Security personnel patrol the buildings of the parliament building in a boat amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 16, 2022. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

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COLOMBO, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka swore 37 deputy ministers, including two for the critical finance ministry, the president’s office said Thursday, in a major expansion of the crisis-hit country’s government.

The island of 22 million faces its worst economic turmoil since independence from Britain in 1948. Foreign exchange reserves have fallen to an all-time low, leaving the country struggling to afford essential imports of fuel, food and medicine.

“New state ministers (were) sworn in before the president at the presidential secretariat,” the president’s media division said in a statement.

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While President Ranil Wickremesinghe remains finance minister, lawmakers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Shehan Semasinghe were sworn in as state ministers in the finance ministry.

Wickremesinghe took office after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka following mass protests in July and subsequently resigned.

Sri Lanka reached a staff-level agreement earlier this month for a $2.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but faces an uphill battle to negotiate multibillion-dollar repayments with creditors. read more

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