The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the first review of Sri Lanka’s economic performance under the program supported by a three-year extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement.
Completion of the review enables the disbursement of the equivalent of SDR 119.894 million (about US$ 162.6 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to the equivalent of SDR 239.788 million (about US$ 325.1 million), the IMF said.
Sri Lanka’s three-year extended arrangement was approved on June 3, 2016 in the amount of about SDR 1.1 billion (US$1.45 billion, or 185 percent of quota in the IMF at that time.
The Government’s reform program, supported by the IMF, aims to reduce the fiscal deficit, rebuild foreign exchange reserves, and introduce a simpler, more equitable tax system to restore macroeconomic stability and promote inclusive growth.
“Sri Lanka’s performance under the Fund-supported program has been broadly satisfactory despite challenging circumstances. Macroeconomic and financial conditions have begun to stabilize, inflation has trended down, and the balance of payments has improved. Meanwhile, international reserves remain below comfortable levels. Fiscal performance has been encouraging. The reinstatement of the amendments to the value added tax will help boost revenues. The 2017 budget proposal aims to strengthen government finances through revenue mobilization, while guarding against revenue shortfalls by aligning spending with revenue on a quarterly basis. The new Inland Revenue Act scheduled for early next year should result in a more efficient, transparent, and broad-based tax system. Complementary structural reforms in tax administration, public financial management, and the governance and oversight of state-owned enterprises are critical for durable fiscal consolidation,” Tao Zhang, Acting Chair and Deputy Managing Director of the IMF said.
Zhang said that while inflation has abated, credit growth remains strong. He said the Central Bank indicates its readiness to tighten the monetary policy stance further if inflationary pressures resurge or credit growth persists. The authorities intend to continue building up reserves through outright purchases while allowing for greater exchange rate flexibility.
“The banking sector is currently well capitalized. Steps are being taken to find a resolution mechanism for the distressed financial institutions. Going forward, there is a need to strengthen the supervisory and regulatory framework, and identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in the financial sector, particularly with regard to non-banks and state-owned banks.”