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Country Report Sri Lanka September 2017

Country Report Sri Lanka September 2017

  • September 2017
  • ID: 2556801
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

Table of Contents

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Outlook for 2017-21



  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the government to succeed in passing a new constitution at a national referendum, due by 2018. Under the new constitution, power will move from the office of the president to parliament.
  • After the constitution is passed, the ruling coalition will splinter along rival party lines, leading to early parliamentary polls in 2018. A repeat of the current coalition is likely, as no party will gain a simple majority of seats.
  • Successive governments will be broadly successful in implementing IMF-mandated macroeconomic and policy reforms. The fiscal deficit will narrow from the equivalent of 5.4% of GDP in 2016 to 3.8% in 2021.
  • We forecast that the economy will expand at an average annual rate of 4.8% in 2017-21. Exports will become a key source of growth towards the end of the forecast period as government efforts to support exporters pay off.
  • Despite IMF support, macroeconomic risks will persist. The wide merchandise trade deficit and sluggish growth in remittance inflows mean that the current-account deficit will remain relatively large in 2017-21.
  • The persistent current-account deficit will exert downward pressure on the local currency. We forecast that the Sri Lanka rupee will depreciate from an average of SLRs153.4:US$1 in 2017 to SLRs178.6:US$1 by 2021.


Review



  • In late August the president, Maithripala Sirisena, reiterated his confidence in the strength of the coalition government after some lawmakers within his party criticised the coalition.
  • On August 23rd the minister for justice and Buddhist affairs, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, was removed from office by the president, Mr Sirisena. Two days later Thalatha Atukorale, a member of the ruling United National Party, was sworn in as the new justice minister
  • In early September the US urged Sri Lanka to take greater steps to implement reforms on issues such as constitutional reform, transitional justice and ethnic reconciliation.
  • In early September the government launched a new policy programme entitled "Vision 2025". The programme sets out an agenda that is, among other goals, focused on job creation, upskilling the workforce and supporting export-oriented industries.
  • On August 25th the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) released a breakdown of the external sector performance in June. The data show that merchandise exports expanded by 9.6% year on year, to US$1bn, while imports contracted by 8%, to US$1.5bn.


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