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Sunday October 1st, 2023

INTERVIEW – Sri Lanka likely to see over $7 bln in four years after IMF deal – minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is likely to see $7 billion inflows in multilateral and bilateral fundings within 48 months once the island nation unlocks the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal for a $2.9 billion loan, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

Sri Lanka is on a recovery path from its unprecedented economic crisis with the island nation having secured essentials including fuel, cooking gas, and medicines.

However, that recovery has been slow as the country’s government revenue is far below its state spending due to a bloated state sector and heavy repayment schedule.

The sovereign debt default declared by the authorities has helped the country to have a breathing space from repayment of staggering debts, but the country will have to start repaying such debts after the debt restructuring is finalized following the IMF loan.

“There will be faster improvements in the economy where we are expecting around a little over $7 billion within the 48 months where we are in the (IMF) program,” Semesinghe told EconomyNext in an interview.

“That is only from the financial institutions and other bilateral negotiations we have done. However, we see a lot of investment prospects in Sri Lanka and investments will prosper. We can see a lot of people who are interested in investing in Sri Lanka are looking forward to opportunities.”

The sovereign default has shut the door for Sri Lanka from borrowing bilateral, multilateral, and commercial loans.

The IMF Executive Board is expected to approve the $2.9 billion loan to Sri Lanka on March 20 as all the creditors including China have given assurances for debt restructuring assurances in line with the IMF parameters.

“We’re confident that we will get the approvals. It’s vital to us,” the minister said.

I think we must put our fiscal system in place. What we have communicated to the entire world is that we have put our house in order.”

“So, we have to march forward. We have passed the most difficult times. But even 2023 will be quite critical for us, because that will be the year which is based on recovery.”

But that recovery has not been easy for President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government which includes unlikely nationalist-minded leftists to liberals.

The government has already raised taxes, fuel, and electricity prices, and allowed the rupee to somewhat reflect market exchange rates despite many such moves that faced protests and labour agitations.

“From 2024 onwards, we will be on a good path. I think the short term pains that people are going through right now will come to an end,” Semasinghe said. (Colombo/March15/2023)

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    Hardly any right-thinking investor will not send their money here due to a loss of confidence in governance and deep fraud, bribery and corruption. Also, the appointment of the president is illegal thereby making the government illegal, including the issuing of orders. The naked manipulation of elections when it is entrenched in the constitution, is equally illegal. While this is going on the breakdown of law and order is getting worse. The [police are now a problem and not a solution.

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  1. sacre blieu says:

    Hardly any right-thinking investor will not send their money here due to a loss of confidence in governance and deep fraud, bribery and corruption. Also, the appointment of the president is illegal thereby making the government illegal, including the issuing of orders. The naked manipulation of elections when it is entrenched in the constitution, is equally illegal. While this is going on the breakdown of law and order is getting worse. The [police are now a problem and not a solution.

Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

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Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

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