The brother of Sri Lanka’s president has resigned from his parliamentary seat and will be replaced by one of the country’s richest people, the ruling party announced.
Dhammika Perera, a major Sri Lankan investor who holds stakes in dozens of companies, will take the place of Basil Rajapaksa, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother.
Basil Rajapaksa resigned as finance minister in April.
“Perera’s name has been sent to the Elections Commission to be gazetted as the new member of parliament,” the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party’s general secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said. “We expect it to happen very soon.”
Perera, who could be given a ministerial portfolio after his appointment as a lawmaker, was unavailable for comment.
It is not clear how Perera’s appointment would help the cash-strapped country move forward on talks for a bailout plan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Some analysts said Perera’s appointment as a minister would likely do little to offset the country’s larger economic woes.
“Regardless of Perera’s appointment we need to get the groundwork done. Sri Lanka is facing serious macroeconomic headwinds,” said Lakshini Fernando, a macroeconomist at investment firm Asia Securities.
“Investors will look for an IMF programme and debt restructuring.”
An IMF delegation will visit on June 20 and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is hopeful a staff-level agreement will be reached by the end of the month.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of the worst financial crisis since independence in 1948. Foreign exchange reserves have dropped to record lows leaving it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, food and medicine and triggering shortages and months of protests.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell