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Country Forecast Sri Lanka October 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Sri Lanka October 2017 Updater

  • October 2017
  • ID: 325702
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the government-a coalition between the two largest parties (and traditional rivals), the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)-to implement political and economic reforms despite significant ideological differences.
  • We expect the coalition to be successful in drafting a new constitution that will be adopted via a national referendum in 2018. We believe that this will trigger an early parliamentary election in that year, which will be fiercely contested but result in another UNP-SLFP coalition.
  • We expect the political scene to remain in flux as an opposition party, the populist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP, Sri Lanka People's Front) will grow in strength at the expense of the SLFP. Moreover, a candidate aligned with the SLPP stands a good chance of becoming president in 2020.
  • The emergence of populist political movements will complicate the coalition's efforts to improve relations between the Sinhalese-Buddhist majority and the Tamil, Muslim and Christian minorities.
  • Sri Lanka will successfully balance its foreign relations even as India and China will compete fiercely for political and economic influence through investments in infrastructure and by signing trade deals.
  • The administration will make progress on implementing IMF-mandated economic reforms and narrowing the budget deficit in the early part of the forecast period. However, fiscal discipline will not be maintained after the IMF programme ends in 2019 and the budget deficit will consequently widen again.
  • Real GDP will rise by 5.2% a year in 2018-22. Economic growth will accelerate noticeably in the second half of the forecast period as government efforts to increase exports pay off and the authorities loosen fiscal policy.
  • The Central Bank of Sri Lanka will gradually adopt a new exchange-rate and inflation-targeting framework. We believe that this policy change is credible and will result in the currency depreciating from a forecast average of SLRs162.5:US$1 in 2018 to SLRs182.1:US$1 by 2022.
  • Despite the implementation of an IMF programme, the country will face macroeconomic risks resulting from twin deficits on the fiscal and current accounts, as well as relatively low international reserves. Surpluses on the secondary and services account (related to the rapidly expanding tourism sector) will be insufficient to cover a widening merchandise trade deficit over 2018-22.

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