IMF staff in Sri Lanka check progress on bailout programme

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IMF staff in Sri Lanka check progress on bailout programme

Friday, 12 May 2023 | PTI | COLOMBO

The IMF, which extended a USD 3 billion bailout facility to debt-ridden Sri Lanka, is currently on a consultation mission here to check on the country’s progress of the programme ahead of the expected formal review in September.

The State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said the IMF senior team members— Peter Breuer, the IMF chief for Sri Lanka and Sarwat Jahan, the IMF representative in Sri Lanka— met President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Finance Minister on Thursday.

The Washington-based global lender’s staff team is currently on a visit to Sri Lanka from May 11 to May 23.

“They are on a consultation mission ahead of the September review meeting. We discussed the progress so far in order to ensure that everything falls in line,” Semasinghe said.

President Wickremesinghe has expressed the government’s commitment to fulfilling all reforms outlined by the Washington-based global lender.The IMF bailout, the 17th in Sri Lanka’s history, called for hard economic reforms such as tax hikes, utility rate hikes and divesting loss-making state business enterprises which have been met with stiff political opposition.

Having obtained the USD 3 billion facility, Sri Lanka is currently negotiating debt restructuring with bilateral and multilateral creditors.

President Wickremesinghe had said by mid-May the restructuring programme would come into effect.

On Tuesday, the island nation’s authorities formally presented Colombo’s request for debt treatment at the first meeting of the official creditor committee, co-chaired by India, Japan, and France.

“We reiterated our commitment to transparency and compatibility of treatment with all our creditors and underlined the need to address the country’s debt situation as soon as possible,” Semasinghe had said.

Sri Lanka is yet to announce its plan for external and local debt restructuring, and according to officials, consultations on both aspects are underway.

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