First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: The International Monetary Fund said that its executive board has approved a nearly $3 billion bailout program for Sri Lanka over four years to help salvage the country’s bankrupt economy.
An IMF statement said about $333 million of the funding will be disbursed immediately and the approval will also open up financial support from other institutions.
“Sri Lanka has been facing tremendous economic and social challenges with a severe recession amid high inflation, depleted reserves, an unsustainable public debt, and heightened financial sector vulnerabilities,” the IMF statement quoted Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva as saying.
The office of Sri Lanka’s president said the IMF approval will unlock financing of up to $7 billion from the fund and other international multilateral financial institutions.
Earlier this month, the last hurdle for the approval was cleared when China joined Sri Lanka’s other creditors in providing debt restructuring assurances.
“Sri Lanka has been facing tremendous economic and social challenges with a severe recession amid high inflation, depleted reserves, an unsustainable public debt, and heightened financial sector vulnerabilities. Institutions and governance frameworks require deep reforms. For Sri Lanka to overcome the crisis, swift and timely implementation of the EFF-supported program with strong ownership for the reforms is critical.”
“Ambitious revenue-based fiscal consolidation is necessary for restoring fiscal and debt sustainability while protecting the poor and vulnerable. In this regard, the momentum of ongoing progressive tax reforms should be maintained, and social safety nets should be strengthened and better targeted to the poor. For the fiscal adjustments to be successful, sustained fiscal institutional reforms on tax administration, public financial and expenditure management, and energy pricing are critical.
“Having obtained specific and credible financing assurances from major official bilateral creditors, it is now important for the authorities and creditors to make swift progress towards restoring debt sustainability consistent with the IMF-supported program. The authorities’ commitments to transparently achieve a debt resolution, consistent with the program parameters and equitable burden sharing among creditors in a timely fashion, are welcome.
“Sri Lanka should stay committed to the multi-pronged disinflation strategy to safeguard the credibility of its inflation targeting regime. As the market regains confidence, the authorities’ recent introduction of greater exchange rate flexibility will help to rebuild the reserve buffer.
“Maintaining a sound and adequately capitalized banking system is important. Implementing a bank recapitalization plan and strengthening financial supervision and crisis management framework are crucial to ensure financial sector stability.
“The ongoing efforts to tackle corruption should continue, including revamping anti-corruption legislation. A more comprehensive anti-corruption reform agenda should be guided by the ongoing IMF governance diagnostic mission that conducts an assessment of Sri Lanka’s anti-corruption and governance framework. The authorities should step up growth-enhancing structural reforms with technical assistance support from development partners.”
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