With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries. The World Bank Group works in every major area of development. We provide a wide array of financial products and technical assistance, and we help countries share and apply innovative knowledge and solutions to the challenges they face. We face big challenges to help the world’s poorest people and ensure that everyone sees benefits from economic growth. Data and research help us understand these how To Invest In A Country and set priorities, share knowledge of what works, and measure progress. A development success story in many ways, Sri Lanka still faces critical challenges as it strives to become an upper middle-income country.
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The World Bank Group supports Sri Lanka’s transition to a more competitive, inclusive, and resilient upper-middle income country. Following 30 years of civil war that ended in 2009, Sri Lanka’s economy grew at an average 5. The economy is transitioning from a predominantly rural-based economy towards a more urbanized economy oriented around manufacturing and services. The country has made significant progress in its socio-economic and human development indicators. Social indicators rank among the highest in South Asia and compare favorably with those in middle-income countries. Economic growth has translated into shared prosperity with the national poverty headcount ratio declining from 15.
The country-wide drought conditions continue to take a toll on macroeconomic performance. The economy is estimated to have grown by 3. 6 percent in the first half of 2018, following a 16-year low growth of 3. Agriculture and related industry sectors are expected to have recovered in the first half of 2018 with relatively benign weather.
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However, the ongoing episode of drought, which has been more pronounced from the beginning of the third quarter of 2018, has already impacted more than 900,000 people in 18 districts. Increased agriculture output led to benign inflation in the first quarter of 2018. Favorable inflation outlook prompted the central bank to marginally relax policy rates in April, as the growth in monetary aggregates decelerated in response to a tight monetary policy. However, subsequent currency depreciation and spill-over effects of increasing fuel prices increased inflation to 5. Nevertheless, the gradually rising fuel bill and increased imports of vehicles and gold widened the trade deficit. External liquidity received a boost from the proceeds of sovereign bonds and increased FDI compared to the previous year. While reserve cover of imports has improved from 2017, external vulnerability remains elevated with relatively high short-term liabilities.
Amid tightening global financial conditions, the Sri Lankan Rupee depreciated by 5. 6 percent against the USD by end-August 2018. The debt portfolio of the central government is subject to important risks with over 50 percent being denominated in foreign currencies, of which around 30 percent is expected to mature in the next five years. While implementation of the cost-reflective fuel pricing will enhance fiscal sustainability, the flip side will be the need for targeted measures to protect the poor and vulnerable who may be affected more. The gradual rebound of growth from last year’s record-low rate is expected to have helped improve the incomes of the poor. However, droughts continue to disrupt livelihoods and agricultural activities, and may have contributed to the recent notable drop in employment, especially among women in rural areas. 5 percent in 2017, its highest levels since 2014, which likely offset some of the gains.