Relief, reprieve

Sri Lanka looks set to get a sign-off on a long-awaited $2.9 billion four-year bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on March 20 after the crisis-hit country secured new financing support from China. The IMF and the island nation confirmed on Tuesday that Sri Lanka had received assurances from all its major bilateral creditors, a key step to deploy financing and an important moment for the country engulfed in its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948. Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament there were signs the economy was improving, but there was still insufficient foreign currency for all imports, making the IMF deal crucial so other creditors could also start releasing funds. “Sri Lanka has completed all prior actions that were required by the IMF,” Wickremesinghe said, and that he and the central bank governor had sent a letter of intent to the IMF. “I welcome the progress made by Sri Lankan authorities in taking decisive policy actions & obtaining financing assurances from all their major creditors, incl. China, India & the Paris Club,” IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Twitter, adding that she looked forward to presenting the IMF-supported program to the executive board on March 20. Approval is expected since the board generally will not add items to its agenda unless its members are ready to act.