SL to secure WB support

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As IMF rules out fresh program

Sri Lanka has approached the World Bank (WB) for lending assistance “as much as possible at the least possible rate” in order to restructure expensive debt taken on by the previous regime, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Friday. Speaking to The Nation Gain, the Minister whilst noting that he was unable to divulge details on it since discussions with regard to the funding sought are still ongoing, the World Bank has, however, in principle agreed to assist the country.
“We are confident that we might be able to secure even 6 to 7 times the amount of money we have got from them so far since we have a new country now with a functioning democracy,” the Minister said.

The Finance Minister’s comments came in the wake of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week ruling out a fresh bail-out for Sri Lanka insisting that the country was not in need of a ‘Balance of Payment’ support at the moment. The Finance Minister had earlier said that Sri Lanka is also looking to tap global capital market to borrow up to US$1.5 billion through sovereign bond before the end of April.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran last week said the purpose of meeting officials from IMF in Washington recently was not to seek funding but technical assistance. His comments were, however, in sharp contrast to the claim made by Minister Karunanayake prior to his visit to Washington last month where had told leading newswire agency, Reuters that “government officials would meet IMF representatives on February 17 to discuss a new program”.
“We did not go to the IMF looking for money. Why we went there was only to seek technical assistance from them,” Mahendran said on the sidelines of a legal summit held in Colombo last week.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference last week IMF’s Mission Head to Sri Lanka Dr. Todd Schneider also denied that there had been a request made by Sri Lanka for a fresh bail-out. Hence he added that there had not been any discussions pertaining to seeking new funding from the IMF during the Sri Lankan delegation’s recent visit.

Last modified on Saturday, 07 March 2015 17:58

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