Sri Lanka’s cenbank secures $900m payment deferral from Asian Clearing Union

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COLOMBO, March 8 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s central bank has received a two-month deferral for $900 million in payments due this week to the Asian Clearing Union, multiple sources said, helping ease pressure on its banks. meager reserves amid its worst financial crisis in years.

A $509 million payment was postponed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in mid-January, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said, as part of a $900 million bailout package. dollars including an exchange of 400 million dollars.

The RBI extended this deferral for another two months following a request from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

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A second payment of around $400-450 million for imports purchased in the past two months was also due, but a two-month deferral was granted by the Tehran-based ACU secretariat, Reuters confirmed. three central bank sources.

The ACU is made up of nine countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Monetary authorities use the ACU as an intermediary to make foreign currency payments for imports between member countries, usually every three months.

“The postponement gives temporary respite to Sri Lanka,” former central bank deputy governor WA Wijewardena told Reuters.

“Eventually, when the payments come due, if we don’t have currency with us at that time, we will be in trouble.”

Sri Lanka’s reserves fell to $2.36 billion at the end of January, but the country has to pay off about $4 billion in debt this year, including a $1 billion international sovereign bond maturing in July.

As the dollar shortage has worsened, the island is struggling to afford essential imports, including food, medicine, cooking gas and fuel.

On Monday, the central bank also eased an unofficial peg allowing the exchange rate to drop from 200 to 203 rupees and set the upper limit at 230 rupees to attract remittances to supplement reserves.

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Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe, editing by Swati Bhat and Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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