IMF staff agreement by end of August – Chairman
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has said he expects the IMF staff-level agreement to be concluded by the end of August, after which the country can hold further talks with credit holders. sovereign bonds and bilateral creditors.
Any preliminary deal would still require IMF board approval for the disbursement of funds, a process that could take months, the president said.
“I think we’ve hit rock bottom already,” Wickremesinghe said in a Sunday interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s how fast we can get there.
He also acknowledged that it will be months before most Sri Lankans, who have faced runaway inflation and long queues for fuel and cooking gas, begin to see their economic plight s noticeably improve.
“We’ve gotten down to business,” he said. “We would have had it in July if it hadn’t been for the unstable political situation.”
Once an agreement with the IMF is in place, the country will have to work out a debt restructuring with creditors with different approaches, the president said.
“It’s a problem between the different approaches to debt relief between India and Japan on one side, backed by the US, and China on the other side,” he said. he declares.
“It’s about getting them to agree on a plan. It’s a question of how do you handle the haircut? How do you deal with having new money to pay off old loans? »
Lanka needs to secure more than $3 billion from other sources next year to help pay for major imports like fuel, food and fertilizer.
Wickremesinghe said he was monitoring the process unfolding in Zambia. Over the past two years, the African copper producer has been the subject of a US$17 billion debt restructuring in foreign currency under a plan drawn up by the Group of 20 countries during the pandemic. and to which China has acceded. The framework expects bilateral lenders and private lenders such as multinational banks to accept similar writedowns, but is intended to help the world’s poorest countries, which does not include Sri Lanka.