Sri Lanka has space for commercial borrowing under IMF program: officials

Aug 11, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has ample space for foreign borrowing under a 20-month International Monetary Fund program, which has set a ceiling of 1,750 million US dollars for new commercial loans, officials said. A US dollar bond issue, sold mostly to domestic buyers with access to foreign exchange, matures this week.

“A 175 million dollars in bonds are maturing and we only called bids for 150 million US dollars,” Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal pointed out last week.

He said the IMF limit did not restrict the government’s foreign borrowing plans.

The IMF has also put ceilings on local rupee borrowings and has encouraged the government to borrow abroad to reduce pressure on domestic markets, allowing interest rates to fall and give the private sector room to grow.

Concessional Push

But the IMF has encouraged the government to get concessional borrowings from donor governments, which tend to have lower rates and longer repayment periods.

An Asian Development Bank official has said the lender is negotiating a 300 million US dollar ‘counter-cyclical’ facility with the government.

“The ADB has money targeted for budget support co-financed by the Japanese,” Brian Aitken