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COLOMBO: Cash-strapped Sri Lanka’s inflation eased to 35.3 percent, the lowest in a year, the statistics office said Friday as the country pressed ahead with austerity measures under an IMF bailout.

Fuel and food prices coming off their record highs helped inflation moderate in April, the Department of Census and Statistics said.

April is the first full month since the International Monetary Fund released the first instalment of a $3 billion loan spread over four years.

The rate of price increases peaked at 69.8 percent in September as Sri Lanka struggled to finance imports of essential goods after declaring a sovereign default on its $46 billion foreign debt in April last year.

Sri Lanka’s key inflation rate eases to 35.3% in April

April’s inflation of 35.3 percent is the lowest since the 29.8 percent recorded a year earlier.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe warned his 22 million people soon after the IMF bailout in late March that they may have to endure more hardships due to austerity measures.

The South Asian nation went through months of food and fuel shortages, along with runaway inflation and prolonged blackouts, due to an unprecedented foreign exchange shortage.

The economic crisis led to months of protests that eventually forced then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and step down in July.

Wickremesinghe has doubled income taxes, increased electricity tariffs and removed fuel subsidies as part of moves to shore up state revenue since replacing Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka’s economy to shrink by 2% in 2023

He has also cracked down on trade unions protesting against high taxes and the government has warned it will confiscate the property of anyone staging work stoppages.

In its latest annual report, released on Thursday, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka expected an economic revival next year after a record 7.8 percent GDP contraction in 2022.

The bank forecast the economy to shrink by 2.0 percent this year but said it could grow at 3.3 percent in 2024.

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