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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2429

Sri Lanka to get by Friday $2.5 bn to tide over balance of payments problem

By K.T.Rajasingham

New York, 21 July (asiantribune.com): By Friday, Sri Lanka will get $ 2.5 bn loan to tide over its balance of payments problem. IMF, which has been sitting on the loan request owing to American pressure since March, has cleared the decks for the loan.

An IMF staff mission reached an agreement with the Sri Lankan authorities on an economic programme designed to support a 20-month stand-by credit, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said. The IMF board will meet on Friday to clear the loan. It will enable Sri Lanka to draw about 313 million dollars immediately.

American objections to the loan were mainly on account of Eelam War IV which has now ended in victory for the SL army and silenced the western critics.

Strauss-Kahn said the end of the conflict provides Sri Lanka with a unique opportunity to undertake economic reform and reconstruction, which would be key to laying the basis for higher economic growth in the years ahead. He said the government had developed an “ambitious program aimed at restoring fiscal and external viability and addressing the significant reconstruction needs of the conflict-affected areas.”

The IMF-supported economic program would also provide a framework for international donors to help finance the government’s reconstruction effort.

Given below the full text of the Press Release No. 09/265 July 20, 2009 Put out by IMFf:

“IMF Announces Staff-Level Agreement with Sri Lanka on US$ 2.5 Billion Stand-By Arrangement Press Release No. 09/265 July 20, 2009 Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), issued the following statement on Sri Lanka today:

"An IMF staff mission reached agreement with the Sri Lankan authorities on an economic program that could be supported by a 20-month Stand-By Arrangement for an amount equivalent to SDR 1.65 billion (about US$2.5 billion). The program is expected to be considered by the Executive Board on July 24. The approval by the Executive Board would enable Sri Lanka to draw an amount equivalent to SDR 206.7 million (about US$313 million) immediately.

“Persistently high budget deficits have forced the government to rely on short-term financing from international markets. The global financial shock resulted in a sudden stop to this financing, capital outflows, and a significant loss of Sri Lanka’s international reserves. Despite recent capital inflows, international reserves remain at low levels.

"The end of the conflict provides Sri Lanka with a unique opportunity to undertake economic reform and reconstruction, which would be key to laying the basis for higher economic growth in the years ahead. To this end, the government has formulated an ambitious program aimed at restoring fiscal and external viability and addressing the significant reconstruction needs of the conflict-affected areas. The IMF staff supports this program, specifically the government’s goals of rebuilding reserves, reducing the fiscal deficit to a sustainable level, and strengthening the financial sector. It is also essential that the program cushion the most vulnerable from the needed adjustment.

“The reconstruction effort will be a large undertaking, with significant spending needs. The government’s program aims to meet these needs while safeguarding debt sustainability by boosting revenue and reducing spending in other areas. This program will also provide a framework for international donors to assist the government in financing its reconstruction effort.

"The strong measures that the authorities are taking under the program justify the exceptional level of access to Fund resources—equivalent to 400 percent of Sri Lanka' quota in the IMF. I would like to call upon the Sri Lankan authorities to work with the donor community to ensure an adequate level of financing for the reconstruction effort to lay the foundation for future growth,” Mr. Strauss-Kahn said.

- Asian Tribune -

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