Corrected: IMF - too early to assess Sri Lanka economic damage from Easter bombings

By Shihar Aneez COLOMBO (Reuters) - (This version of the story corrects the source in paragraphs 9, 10, 12, 13 making clear that Subir Gokarn's and Mahinda Siriwardana's views reflect Sri Lanka's and are not the IMF's official position) The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it was holding its forecast for Sri Lanka's 2019 economic growth at 3.5% in spite of devastating Easter bombings, saying it was too early to assess financial damage. The April 21 bombings, which killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels and were claimed by Islamic State, have scared tourists away and soured business sentiment on the island

Reuters May 18, 2019 02:05:35 IST
Corrected: IMF - too early to assess Sri Lanka economic damage from Easter bombings

Corrected IMF  too early to assess Sri Lanka economic damage from Easter bombings

By Shihar Aneez

COLOMBO (Reuters) - (This version of the story corrects the source in paragraphs 9, 10, 12, 13 making clear that Subir Gokarn's and Mahinda Siriwardana's views reflect Sri Lanka's and are not the IMF's official position)

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it was holding its forecast for Sri Lanka's 2019 economic growth at 3.5% in spite of devastating Easter bombings, saying it was too early to assess financial damage.

The April 21 bombings, which killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels and were claimed by Islamic State, have scared tourists away and soured business sentiment on the island.

Sri Lanka's economy, which depends on tourism, garment manufacturing, tea exports and remittances, was already at a low point before the bombings.

The economy grew 3.2% last year, the weakest in 17 years, as a weeks-long political crisis and monetary policy tightenings sapped business confidence and cooled investment.

A Reuters poll of 10 analysts predicted last week that growth could slide to just 2.5% this year following the attacks.

But the IMF said it was maintaining its growth projection due a lack of new official data and clear information to assess the impact on growth of the Easter bombings.

"It will be speculative for us to revise our growth projection at this juncture," Manuela Goretti, the IMF's mission chief for Sri Lanka, said in a teleconference with journalists in the capital Colombo.

"So we maintain our growth projection for 2019 at 3.5% with the gradual improvement in the medium term at 5%."

Subir Gokarn, the executive director for Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh at the IMF, and his alternate, Mahinda Siriwardana, said in an earlier report that Sri Lanka's budget and current account deficits could widen more than expected because of the bombings.

The IMF said in an emailed statement on Friday that the views of the executive director for Sri Lanka represent the country's authorities and are different from the fund's official position.

Previously, the IMF said it expected that this year's fiscal deficit would fall to 4.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) from last year's 5.3%, and the current account deficit to 2.8% from 3.2% in 2018.

Gokarn and Siriwardana did not provide fresh estimates, but said normalcy had largely returned to the island, thanks to government measures including the implementation of an emergency law.

"Authorities expect to get through this incident expeditiously, putting the country back on track to benefit from improving economic fundamentals," the directors said.

In March, the Fund agreed to extend a $1.5 billion loan facility to Sri Lanka for an extra year, following the country's seven-week political crisis last year.

On Tuesday, the lender approved disbursal of a $164 million tranche, bringing the total disbursed to more than $1.16 billion.

The loan is crucial for Sri Lanka to secure more attractive borrowing terms.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.