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Sri Lankan PM admits ‘economy has completely collapsed’

Sri Lanka’s prime minister told parliament that the country’s economy has “completely collapsed” and admitted that “no country or organisation in the world is willing to provide fuel to us,” as the financial crisis on the island worsens.

Speaking in parliament, Ranil Wickremesinghe said "We are now facing a far more serious situation beyond the mere shortages of fuel, gas, electricity and food”.

"Our economy has completely collapsed. That is the most serious issue before us today."

Wickremesinghe went on to add the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation is US$700m in debt and “as a result, no country or organisation in the world is willing to provide fuel to us”. "They are even reluctant to provide fuel for cash," he added.

He went on to warn of further hardship to come, claiming that “if steps had at least been taken to slow down the collapse of the economy at the beginning, we would not be facing this difficult situation today”.

"But we lost out on this opportunity,” he said grimly added, "We are now seeing signs of a possible fall to rock bottom".

In his address, the six-time prime minister also seemed to suggest that Sri Lanka’s besieged president Gotabaya Rajapaksa would not be stepping down – a key demand of anti-government protests that erupted across the South.

“Once we have established a firm economic foundation you can hand over power to any political party as per your wish at an election and elect 225 suitable representatives to parliament," he said. "You will be then given the opportunity to reject those you believe were responsible for the predicament Sri Lanka is facing today. In turn, the new government will be given the mandate to bring those responsible before justice.”

“But all this can only be achieved following the revival of the country.”

Read the full text of his statement here.

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