Sri Lanka sees forex reserves exceeding $4 billion after fresh funding

COLOMBO (Reuters) -Sri Lanka said on Wednesday it expects its foreign exchange reserves to rise above $4 billion this month, their highest level since the island nation plunged last year into its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

The “higher than anticipated” rise follows the inflow of $787 million in funds this month from global lenders including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the Sri Lankan president’s office said.

The country of 22 million people is recovering from its worst financial crisis, which sent the economy into freefall last year with soaring inflation, currency depreciation and low foreign reserves.

Sri Lanka’s official reserves stood at $3.58 billion as of November, according to the central bank. About $1.5 billion of the reserves is a Chinese yuan-denominated swap.

The IMF earlier this month cleared the first review of Sri Lanka’s $2.9 billion bailout, providing about $337 million in funds.

The World Bank said on Wednesday it had released a second tranche of $250 million to support economic reforms in Sri Lanka.

(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe and Kanjyik Ghosh; Writing by Kanjyik Ghosh; Editing by Andrew Heavens)