Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Tuesday left for New Delhi to ink a fresh USD 1 billion bailout package with India, amid a crippling economic meltdown staring at the island nation.

Rajapaksa left for India for a two-day official visit for crucial talks with the Indian Government for broader financial assistance to tide over Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.

During the visit, Rajapaksa will discuss the USD 1 billion loan that is expected to fund the country’s fuel, food and medicine imports, the finance ministry here said.

The Finance Minister is accompanied by the Secretary to the Treasury, S.R. Attygalle, the state-run Daily News newspaper reported.

In December 2021, Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, embarked on a two-day trip to India, his first overseas visit since he assumed office in July 2021.

In January this year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with Basil Rajapaksa and discussed projects and investment plans by India that would strengthen the economy of the island nation.

Interestingly, Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi comes on the day when the Sri Lankan government said it will seek financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as it desperately tries to salvage the country’s beleaguered economy that is currently reeling under a severe foreign exchange crisis.

Sri Lanka’s worsening foreign-exchange shortage has seriously impacted the energy sector, which depends entirely on imports for its oil needs.

The fuel shortage has led to long queues at understocked pumps across the country.

Sri Lanka’s economy is also seeing a scarcity of food and other essentials, which has pushed inflation to a record 25 per cent last month. Tourism, another key foreign-exchange earner for Sri Lanka, was hit hard due to the pandemic.

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