Sri Lanka has received the first tranche of an IMF bailout programme, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament.
The crisis-ridden island nation was scheduled to receive a $330 million tranche, the first part of a nearly $3 billion bailout approved by the International Monetary Fund on Monday.
“This sets the stage for Sri Lanka to have better fiscal discipline and improved governance,” Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday.
The IMF bailout is expected to catalyse additional support to the tune of $3.75 billion from the likes of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other lenders. It clears the way for Sri Lanka to rework a substantial part of its $84 billion worth of public debt.
State finance minister Shehan Semasinghe said in an interview that Sri Lanka is ready to engage in restructuring talks with bilateral and private creditors to recover debt sustainability as “soon as possible.”
This was the 17th IMF bailout for Sri Lanka and the third since the country’s decades-long civil war ended in 2009.
Economic mismanagement coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic left Sri Lanka severely short of dollars for essential imports at the beginning of last year, tipping the island nation into its worst financial crisis in seven decades.
The country plunged into its worst economic downturn since independence because of a major shortage of foreign currency reserves.
The Indian Ocean nation of around 22 million people ran out of cash to finance even the most essential imports, causing massive social unrest.