Sri Lanka to join Russia's Mir system, resumes flights to Russia
Economically crippled Sri Lanka seeks to join the Mir card system, which relieves it from the West's exploitative economic payment system that played a role in ruining its economy.
The Sri Lankan government is discussing with Russia the possibility of joining its MIR payment system, with the discussion being underway between the Central banks as revealed by Sri Lankan Minister of Transport and Highways, and Minister of Mass Media Bandula Gunawardena, to Sputnik.
"Yes, yes, our embassy tried to do that because you want to [have] easy payment system... We will try to do that, we can get Central Bank's approval. After that it will be a success," Gunawardena said, upon being asked whether the payment system will be launched in Sri Lanka.
In addition, discussions are underway between the Central Banks of Moscow and Colombo, he announced, adding that Colombo must obtain the approval of the central banks, noting that the Sri Lankan authorities would be pleased to know that Russian tourists could pay by card while visiting the country.
Last February, Russian banks were excluded from the SWIFT interbank payment system by the decision of the European Commission and its allies. The maneuver was intended to hit the country's banking network and its access to funds via SWIFT, which is pivotal for the smooth transaction of money worldwide. Visa and Mastercard bank cards issued in Russia are no longer in effect and don't allow users to pay for goods and services outside Russia.
Mir cards are currently in function in 10 foreign countries: Turkey, Vietnam, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. The card can be used to deposit and withdraw cash and pay for purchases.
Attempts to isolate Russia have driven the economic power to seek alternative deals and agreements with countries particularly suffering from the US- and West-led sanctions.
Furthermore, Colombo plans to restore flights with Moscow by mid-October, announced Gunawardena.
"First, we will try to restart [flights from] Moscow to Colombo [and back]. After that - St. Petersburg," Gunawardena said, adding that the flights are expected to resume by mid-October this year.
Gunawardena added that flights between other cities may also appear later.
An airplane from Sri Lanka to Russia which was expected to leave on June 2 was canceled due to lack of authorization from Sri Lankan aviation authorities. Russia, in response, handed a note of protest to the Sri Lankan ambassador in Moscow.
IMF playing 'economic hitman'
While Sri Lanka has been overpowered with months of lack of food, fuel, and medicine, extended power cuts, and inflation following a foreign exchange crisis that left importers unable to pay for vital goods, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) comes to the 'rescue' with a disastrous condition which would leave the country further bankrupt.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board will need to agree on a staff agreement, which depends on Sri Lanka finalizing a deal to restructure its $51 billion in foreign debt with creditors. The IMF has set a $2.9 billion bailout amount for the revival of the country's economy.