Sri Lanka swears in 37 junior ministers, two for finance

Security personel patrol in a boat in the premises of the Parliament building, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 16 July, 2022.Reuters

Sri Lanka swore in 37 junior ministers, including two for the critical finance ministry, the president's office said on Thursday, in a major expansion of the crisis-hit country's government.

The island of 22 million people is facing its worst economic turmoil since independence from Britain in 1948. Foreign exchange reserves have dropped to historic lows, leaving the country struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, food and medicine.

"New state ministers (were) sworn in before the president at the presidential secretariat," the president's media division said in a statement.

While President Ranil Wickremesinghe remains finance minister, lawmakers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Shehan Semasinghe were sworn in as state ministers in the finance ministry.

Wickremesinghe took office after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka following mass protests in July and then resigned.

Sri Lanka secured a staff-level agreement for a $2.9 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this month but faces an uphill battle to negotiate repayments of billions of dollars with creditors.