Sri Lanka’s need for IMF wanes: Central Bank

July 4, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s central bank chief said Saturday that the island could live without a major IMF bailout that had been delayed by the final stages of the government’s fight with Tamil Tiger rebels. The government had requested the 1.9-billion-dollar loan in March to help stave off its first balance of payments deficit in four years after foreign currency reserves fell to around six weeks’ worth of imports.

The loan was delayed under political pressure from the United States, Britain and other countries who felt the government was not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties as it closed in on the remnants of the once-powerful Tamil Tiger army.

Central Bank of Sri Lanka Governor Nivard Cabraal said the final defeat of the Tigers had helped alleviate the island’s balance of payments concerns.

“Things are looking good after the war. The urgency for an IMF loan is not there anymore,” Cabraal told AFP.

“We have over 1.6 billion dollars in reserves, enough to pay for over two months of imports. And the figures are steadily climbing,” Cabraal said.

Foreign reserves, which fell by more than two thirds when the central bank sold dollars to defend the local rupee last year,