Economic mismanagement coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic left Sri Lanka severely short of dollars for essential imports at the start of last year tipping the country into the worst financial crisis since Independence from the British in 1948.

Sri Lanka is waiting for a $2.9 billion bailout program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to be finalised on 20 March.

“These numbers are broadly in line with expectations. In the last three months of 2022 Sri Lanka was hit by very high inflation, fuel shortages and high interest rates,” said Sanjeewa Fernando, senior vice president research at Asia Securities.

“For the rest of this year, with IMF funds expected, the central bank should be able to keep the currency strengthened, eventually reduce interest rates, and continue to see inflation ease."

The state-run Census and Statistics Department said that the agriculture sector shrank 4.6 per cent, while industries contracted 16 per cent, and services dropped 2 per cent, from a year earlier.

Sri Lanka's economy shrank 11.8 per cent in the July-September quarter from a year ago, the second-worst quarterly contraction ever for the country.

Sri Lanka aims to announce a debt-restructuring strategy in April and step up talks with commercial creditors ahead of an IMF review of a bailout package in six months, its central bank governor told Reuters last Thursday.