“A return to fiscal consolidation, targeting a reduction in the overall fiscal deficit to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2020, is the linchpin of the reform program. Rebuilding tax revenues through a comprehensive reform of both tax policy and administration will be key in this regard, supplemented by steps toward more effective control over expenditures and putting state enterprise operations on a more commercial footing.“Medium-term growth prospects also need to be supported through a greater role for market forces and a decisive shift toward an outward orientation. A clear commitment to exchange rate flexibility will enable adjustment to a shifting external environment while allowing the central bank to rebuild foreign exchange reserves and focus more closely on its key mandate of price stability. The economic program also supports the government’s objective of boosting competitiveness and greater integration with regional and global markets through comprehensive trade reform and improvements to the investment environment. Steadfast implementation of these reforms should strengthen Sri Lanka’s ability to attract investment, improve prospects for sustained medium-term growth, and reduce fiscal risks.” (Colombo Gazette) The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a 36-month extended arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with Sri Lanka for an amount equivalent to SDR 1.1 billion (about US$1.5 billion, or 185 percent of quota) to support the country’s economic reform agenda.The IMF arrangement aims to meet balance of payments needs arising from a deteriorating external environment and pressures that may persist until macroeconomic policies can be adjusted. It is also expected to catalyze an additional US$650 million in other multilateral and bilateral loans, bringing total support to about $2.2 billion (over and above existing financing arrangements). Following the Executive Board discussion on Sri Lanka, Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement: “Despite positive growth momentum, Sri Lanka’s economy is beginning to show signs of strain from an increasingly difficult external environment and challenging policy adjustments. The new government’s economic agenda, supported by the Extended Fund Facility, provides an important opportunity to re-set macroeconomic policies, address key vulnerabilities, boost reserves, and support stability and resilience. The Executive Board’s decision will enable an immediate disbursement of SDR 119.894 million (about US$ 168.1 million), and the remainder will be available in 6 installments subject to quarterly reviews.During the same meeting, the Board also concluded the 2016 Article IV consultation.