Sri Lanka’s Future May Not Be All That Bleak

podcast | Economy | South Asia

A conversation with economist Ganeshan Wignaraja.

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

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka’s interim president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has declared another state of emergency ahead of the next session of parliament, where politicians have promised an all-party government (APG) will be formed and a new president will be elected this week.

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

It’s a great question.

Ganeshan Wignaraja is an internationally known development economist. He is a Senior Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Institute for South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and a Senior Research Associate at ODI Global in London.

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

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There are also problems with China, the country’s third largest lender, and its ambivalent attitude towards Sri Lanka, despite Colombo’s strategic position within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Previously, Wignaraja was director of research at the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo, executive director of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry think tank in Colombo, and visiting scholar at the IMF in Washington, DC.

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