The Executive Board of the IMF met in Washington on Monday and completed the seventh review of Sri Lanka’s economic performance under a program supported by a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). The completion of the review enables the immediate disbursement of about US$ 426.8 million, bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to an amount equivalent to about US$ 2.13 billion, the IMF said in a statement.The Central Bank said that its gross official reserves now stand at US dollars 6.1 billion, which is equivalent to 3.6 months of imports. However the Central Bank said in a statement early Tuesday that with the IMF approving the loan the disbursement as well as other inflows on account of workers’ remittances, inflows to the government to finance various infrastructure development projects and inflows to the private sector have helped raise the country’s foreign reserves to a comfortable level. The Sri Lankan Central Bank said that the announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it had approved a US dollar 427 million loan will help boost the country’s foreign reserves.Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves had in recent times seen a drastic drop resulting in the bank allowing the Sri Lankan Rupee to depreciate as against the U.S dollar to record low levels. With the receipt of the eighth tranche from the IMF, the total outstanding value will exceed 300% of Sri Lanka’s current quota, thus requiring the payment of an interest surcharge of 2.0% on top of the current interest rate for the portion exceeding the 300% of the quota.Despite the relatively higher interest rate, Sri Lanka considered opting for the IMF tranche favourably in view of the current uncertain global environment, the Central Bank said.
THE IMMIGRANT COUNCIL of Ireland has said that a failure to introduce legislation will ruin Christmas for legal migrants in Ireland.The council says that a failure to introduce rights for Irish citizens and migrants legally living here to be with their loved ones will leave many families “torn apart” this Christmas.Ireland currently has, according to the Migrant Integration Policy Index, the worst family reunification policy in Europe or North America.They say that they hope 2014 will see the introduction of legislation that will eliminate Ministerial discretion in applications for visas.Senior Solicitor with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Hilkka Becker says:“As we approach year end, we are encouraged by indications that the Government is planning to honour its commitment to act on an issue which is leaving people living in limbo.“Reform needs to happen on several levels to make conditions for family reunification accessible and to ensure that decisions that interfere with the right to family life are foreseeable for applicants.”Skype on Christmas DayThe immigrant council point to a case of a Chinese national forced to leave her son behind as proof that the system is in need of an overhaul.Lucy came to Ireland to study over 10 years ago.She met her husband and she gave birth to a baby son in Ireland six years ago. As they were both studying and working to support their studies, they asked her parents in China to look after their son for a short period when he was two.Although they have now been granted a more permanent status, their son was refused a visa to return to Ireland.Read: Ireland is failing to meet its international obligations on asylum seekers says the Irish Refugee CouncilRead: “We’re not looking for a handout, we have to earn citizenship”