World Bank refuses new funding for bankrupt Sri Lanka

Published July 30, 2022
Drivers push auto rickshaws in a line to buy petrol from a fuel station, amid Sri Lanka's economic crisis, in Colombo on  July 29, 2022. — Reuters
Drivers push auto rickshaws in a line to buy petrol from a fuel station, amid Sri Lanka's economic crisis, in Colombo on July 29, 2022. — Reuters

COLOMBO: The World Bank on Friday said it would not offer new funding to Sri Lanka unless the bankrupt island nation carried out “deep structural reforms” to stabilise its crashing economy.

Sri Lanka has suffered an unprecedented downturn with its 22 million people enduring months of food and fuel shortages, rolling blackouts and rampant inflation.

The South Asian nation defaulted on its $51-billion foreign debt in April and huge protests earlier this month forced then president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign.

The World Bank said it was concerned about the impact of the crisis on Sri Lanka’s people but was not ready to give funds until the government had bedded down necessary reforms.

“Until an adequate macroeconomic policy framework is in place, the World Bank does not plan to offer new financing to Sri Lanka,” the lender said in a statement.

“This requires deep structural reforms that focus on economic stabilisation, and also on addressing the root structural causes that created this crisis.” The World Bank said it had already diverted $160 million from existing loans to finance urgently needed medicines, cooking gas and school meals.

Sri Lanka is currently in bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund but officials say the process could take months.

The island nation has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports, and chronic shortages have inflamed public anger.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2022

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