Exclusive-Ex-Sri Lanka cenbanker Weerasinghe says he accepts offer to be new governor

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FILE PHOTO: People walk past the main entrance of the Sri Lanka's Central Bank in Colombo, Sri Lanka

By Uditha Jayasinghe

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Former Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) official P. Nandalal Weerasinghe said on Monday he had accepted an offer from the country’s president to become the bank’s next governor amid a deepening economic crisis and unrest.

“The president called me and made the offer and I have accepted,” Weerasinghe told Reuters.

Weerasinghe, who left CBSL in September as senior deputy governor, said he would arrive in Sri Lanka from Australia this week to formally accept the position.

The CBSL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said earlier on Monday he had offered his resignation as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sought to form a unity government and find a way out of Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis in decades.

Rajapaksa also dropped his brother, Basil Rajapaksa, as finance minister and appointed the country’s justice minister, Ali Sabry, in his place.

The debt-laden island nation of 22 million people is struggling to pay for imports due to a scarcity of foreign exchange, leading to hours-long power cuts and a shortage of essentials.

Sri Lanka is due to begin talks with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue plan later this month.

(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe, Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal, Editing by William Maclean and Richard Chang)