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Sri Lanka's new government plans to privatize Sri Lankan Airlines, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a televised address to the nation Monday. The carrier lost 45 billion rupees ($124 million) in the year ending March 2021.  These measures are part of Wickremesinghe administration to stem losses even as authorities are forced to print money to pay government salaries. 

The national carrier, which has a fleet of 25 Airbus SE planes, flies to destinations in Europe, the Middle East as well as South and Southeast Asia, according to FlightRadar24.

Wickremesinghe -- less than a week into the job -- said he was forced to print money to pay salaries, which will pressure the nation’s currency. 

“The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives," Wickremesinghe said. “We must immediately establish a national assembly or political body with the participation of all political parties to find solutions for the present crisis."

Wickremesinghe took over as prime minister on Thursday as the country was without a government since Monday when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother and prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted following an attack on the anti-government protesters by his supporters

Sri Lanka is sliding into a default as the grace period on two unpaid foreign bonds ends on Wednesday, the latest blow to a country rattled by economic pain and social unrest. 

The authorities have made numerous arrests and repeatedly imposed curfews. The political crisis was triggered in late March when people hurt by long hours of power cuts and essential shortages took to the streets demanding the resignation of the government.

 

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