Efforts to attract FDI should be coupled with building effective policy strategies that instill and maintain credibility. Indeed, this is all the more important as Sri Lanka appears to be firmly against an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. An IMF programme is mostly useful in firming up sovereign credit ratings and reviving the sentiments of investors. But investor sentiments can also improve if governments put forward and implement credible policy strategies. By contrast, the CBSL’s policy rate adjustment to anchor expectations, for instance, will not stick if direct financing of fiscal spending is to continue under yield control measures. Instead, market convictions on the credibility of the policy mix will drive economic fundamentals. As Sri Lanka readies to transition out of pandemic-related emergency support, some notion of fiscal and debt sustainability to anchor confidence should be the priority in Budget 2022 preparations.
The immediate economic consequences of Sri Lanka’s brutal Easter Sunday terror attacks are obvious. The damage to tourism is the most apparent; investments decisions might be delayed. The impact of a serious breach of security depends on whether it is perceived as an isolated incident or an endemic threat. A swift and efficient response to bring the security situation under immediate control and restore ‘normalcy’ helps establish the former; confusion and disarray only reinforce the latter and delays an economic recovery.
As Sri Lanka, like many other developing countries, escalates its engagement with China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the question of debt entrapment requires a more rigorous review. Criticism of Chinese loan disbursements have focused not only on the volume of funds, but also on the terms. However, the author argues that, Chinese loans are not the primary cause of Sri Lanka’s debt imbroglio; but, they have contributed to, and possibly aggravated, the problem.
The Sri Lankan rupee (LKR) has depreciated by 10% in nominal terms by end September 2018, posing significant economy-wide risks in view of a hefty total external debt stock at 60% of GDP at end 2017. In this context, the author argues that the Sri Lankan economy is set to face testing times; dollar revenues need to be generated to match dollar-denominated debt service as never before.
The Sri Lankan economy appears to be suffering from a growing debt crisis and is facing a risky external sector outlook in the near term. According to Central Bank’s 2016 Annual Report, the total general government external debt has grown by 10% in 2016 to US$ 27.2 billion. This article by Dushni Weerakoon analyses whether Sri Lanka is making progress in terms of getting its debt overhang under control.