Paris Club creditors give assurances to back IMF bailout for Sri Lanka
By Jorgelina Do Rosario
LONDON – The Paris Club of creditors has given financing assurances to support the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval of an extended fund facility for Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan president’s office said on Tuesday (7).
The assurances are crucial to unlocking a $2.9 billion deal from the IMF, which is still pending executive board approval.
“Paris Club members as well as Hungary, Saudi Arabia and India continue to look forward to working together along with all bilateral creditors and to engage with other key stakeholders in order to proceed with a comparable debt restructuring as soon as possible,” the informal group of creditors said in a separate statement on Tuesday.
The financing assurances from the Paris Club, which includes Japan – Sri Lanka’s second biggest bilateral lender – was previously reported by Reuters.
The Paris Club statement said that its members, jointly with Hungary, expressed their full commitment to negotiate with Sri Lanka terms of a restructuring, while Saudi Arabia supported the process but “acknowledged the importance to offer financing assurances in the near future.”
The South Asian island nation of 22 million people secured a preliminary deal with the IMF in September, though no funds have been disbursed yet because the bailout has to be approved by the Fund’s board.
To unlock the IMF’s cash disbursements, the Colombo government first needs to secure financing assurances from key bilateral lenders such as Japan, India and China.
While India committed to helping ease the debt burden of its neighbour as part of the IMF program, China’s EximBank only offered a two-year moratorium, a move that indicates willingness to support a debt recast but is not enough, according to US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland. The United States has the biggest share of IMF votes.
China and India are not Paris Club permanent members.
An IMF spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Members further expressed appreciation for the specific and credible financing assurances issued by India on Jan. 16, 2023 and its coordination with the Paris Club,” the group’s statement added.
“The Paris Club members as well as Hungary and Saudi Arabia urged other official bilateral creditors, including China, to do the same in line with IMF program parameters as soon as possible.”
A group of overseas private creditors said on Friday (3) that it was also ready to engage “quickly and effectively” with the Sri Lankan authorities on debt rework talks consistent with the IMF’s program. Sri Lanka has to restructure debt payments of about $13 billion on 11 international bonds.
The group of at least 30 private creditors represents around 60% of all international bondholders.
Global investment companies Amundi Asset Management, BlackRock, HBK Capital Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. are among the group members.
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