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IMF still considering RFI request

2 years ago

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  • 76 nations out of 102 approved
  • SL among 20 to 30 countries pending
Sri Lanka is still engaged in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with regard to its request seeking a Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) from the Fund, according to an IMF official. “We are continuing to engage with Sri Lankan authorities and are considering the full set of options for engagement,” IMF Mission Chief of Sri Lanka Masahiro Nozaki told The Sunday Morning Business in response to a query made by us.  Nozaki noted that the IMF is also factoring in the new Government’s policies to arrive at its decision.   “On financial support, we are assessing all relevant conditions on their request for an RFI, taking account of the new Government’s policies and efforts to address the daunting economic challenges posed by Covid-19,” Nozaki added.  Following the global outbreak of the pandemic, IMF received about 102 requests from countries, seeking RFI support. As of mid-September, about 76 out of these 102 requests had been approved, according to the IMF. This means that Sri Lanka is among approximately 20 or 30 countries that have not been granted RFI support. The 76 approved countries include a number of Asia-Pacific countries such as Bangladesh, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Nepal. On 29 May, Bangladesh was approved $ 488 million under RFI while on 26 June, Myanmar was approved $ 237.7 million. On 3 June, Mongolia was approved $ 99 million under RFI. The total of the approved funds under this facility was $ 31 billion by end-September.  When contacted, Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle confirmed to The Sunday Morning Business that discussions are ongoing. “We have held discussions and we will be having further discussions. But they (IMF) have to assess and decide. I do not know what their procedure is. Normally, they will wait till the budget is presented to decide.  They have to have something concrete such as policy documents to decide. We have provided the relevant facts and figures from our end.” When asked how urgently Sri Lanka requires RFI support and if Sri Lanka could afford to be excluded from this financing, he said that it was not desperately needed by the country. “We have not pressed for that. That is just for reserve support. When we have $ 7.4 billion in foreign reserves, it is not a dangerous situation. Reserves are there to use when there is a problem. We do not see any issue as such,” he said. Sri Lanka submitted the request to the IMF for emergency financial support under the RFI in April this year. In mid-April, Nozaki, then IMF Acting Mission Chief for Sri Lanka, confirmed to The Sunday Morning Business that this request was being reviewed. Nozaki added that the RFI, if approved, could potentially replace the $ 1.5 billion existing Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement of Sri Lanka with the IMF, from which Sri Lanka has so far received $ 1.3 billion. In May, IMF Communications Department Director Gerry Rice, during a virtual meeting, stated that the IMF will be working in close co-ordination with the Government to assess all relevant factors related to that request.

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