Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Cabinet was on Wednesday thrown into turmoil by the resignation of Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva while another senior minister demanded that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should quit as the finance minister alleging that he halted all the projects that could bring in the much-needed forex to the country facing worst economic crisis.
De Silva, Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, resigned following an allegation made by main Opposition SJB leader Sajith Premadasa in Parliament on Tuesday that a Cabinet Minister had solicited a bribe from Japan’s Taisei Corporation.
De Silva, in a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said although he was not directly accused of demanding a bribe he was resigning in order to allow an impartial investigation as the allegation concerned his ministry.
According to media reports, the Japanese firm is involved in the expansion of the Bandaranaike International Airport here.
Meanwhile, newly-appointed minister of investment promotion, Dhammika Perera, addressing a gathering here, demanded that Wickremesinghe should resign as the minister of finance.
Perera, a former business leader, alleged that Wickremesinghe was blocking dollar inflows into the country and he had no cash flow plan to resolve the forex crisis. Wickremesinghe ignored to respond to the Opposition when asked to react in Parliament on Perera’s attack on him.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948, and needs to obtain at least USD 4 billion to tide over the acute shortage in foreign exchange reserves.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.
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