From fiscal concerns to eliminating Measles amidst a pandemic, read our weekly wrap.
Tax revisions late last year and the COVID-19 impact have been a double whammy for public revenue, with Sri Lanka’s budget deficit growing by 24% to LKR 452 billion in the first half of 2020, showing that after elections one of the key efforts of Parliament will be to encourage some level of fiscal consolidation to put Government finance on a more sustainable path. The Daily FT article speaks on the latest Mid-Year Fiscal Position Report 2020, which indicated that fiscal performance is likely to be under severe stress during the remainder of the year, given the local and global shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also fears of a second wave and Sri Lanka’s debt metrics call for strong fiscal management not just in the second half of the year but also in 2021, depending on how the economic recovery moves forward.
For Sri Lankans wilting under the strain of the hitherto unknown COVID-19 pandemic threat the news earlier this week that the country has fully eliminated the threat of two other communicable diseases, Rubella (German Measles) and Measles, is a morale-booster. The nation’s medical personnel, now fighting a far greater health threat, can pat themselves on the back for their success with these two viral diseases. The World Health Organisation, currently leading the world in the fight against COVID-19, has congratulated Sri Lanka for her success with the two measles-type illnesses.
As people in developing countries around the world faced multiple crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group worked to respond quickly with technical and policy advice, and scaled up financing targeted to the poor and towards improving development outcomes. World Bank Group support countries fight the pandemic by focusing on four priorities: saving lives threatened by the pandemic; protecting the poor and vulnerable; securing the foundations of the economy to shorten the time to recovery; and strengthening policies and institutions for resilience based on transparent and sustainable debt and investments. To support these emergency programs, World Bank Group financing was significantly scaled up, reaching USD 74 billion in commitments.
Although many governments are still advising against "nonessential" international travel, a host of popular destinations are beginning to ease their COVID-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions and are moving toward welcoming tourists back. On July 1, the European Union announced it would be reopening its external border to 15 countries outside of the bloc in a bid to boost its travel industry.