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Country Forecast Sri Lanka December 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Sri Lanka December 2017 Updater

  • December 2017
  • ID: 358995
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit

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  • The Economist Intelligence Unit expects a new constitution will be adopted via a national referendum in 2018. We believe that this will trigger an early parliamentary election in that year.
  • Our core forecast is that no single party will emerge dominant in the next election, but the most likely outcome is a repeat of the current ruling coalition between the United National Party (UNP) and the centre-right Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), with the UNP as the dominant partner.
  • We expect a populist party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP, or Sri Lanka People's Front), to grow in strength at the expense of the SLFP over the next five years. Our core assumption is that a candidate aligned with the SLPP will become president in 2020.
  • The emergence of populist political movements will impede 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, as India and China compete fiercely for political and economic influence in the island 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 Sri Lanka rupee depreciating from a forecast average of SLRs161:US$1 in 2018 to SLRs179.6: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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