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IMF to consider request for rapid aid

The International Monetary Fund will consider providing quick financial assistance to debt-burdened Sri Lanka following representations by India, Sri Lanka’s finance ministry said yesterday.

A delegation headed by Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Ali Sabry kicked off formal talks with the IMF in Washington on Monday for a programme the government hopes will help top up its reserves and attract bridge financing to pay for essential imports of fuel, food and medicines.

Shamir Zavahir, an aide to Sabry, said on Twitter that Sri Lanka asked for a loan under the rapid financial instrument (RFI) window. But the global lender was initially not inclined to grant the request, he said.

“The IMF has subsequently informed Minister Sabry that India had also made representations on behalf of Sri Lanka for an RFI,” Sri Lanka’s finance ministry said in a statement.

“It had been communicated that IMF will consider the special request made despite it being outside of the standard circumstances for the issuance of an RFI.”

Meanwhile, a severe fuel shortage sparked spontaneous protests across Sri Lanka yesterday, with tens of thousands of angry motorists burning tyres and blocking a major road in Rambukkana.

Police shot dead one man and wounded 10 others after using live ammunition against the motorists, officials said, in the first killing of a protester in weeks of anti-government demonstrations over the island’s crisis.

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