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Sri Lanka’s national consumer price inflation at 53.6% in Feb

(Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) rose 53.6% in February on the year, after a rise of 53.2% in January, the statistics department of the debt-stricken country said on Tuesday.

Food prices eased to 49% in February from 53.6% in January, while non-food inflation was at 57.4%, the Department of Census and Statistics said in a statement.

The data comes after the International Monetary Fund approved a nearly $3 billion bailout for Sri Lanka, grappling with its worst financial crisis in seven decades because of economic mismanagement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the IMF backing is expected to spur additional external support of $3.75 billion, it will not immediately help the millions being squeezed by soaring costs of living, high income taxes of up to 36% and a 66% increase in power tariffs.

The IMF had not set any growth target but set an inflation band of 12% to 18% to be achieved by end of 2023, said Peter Breuer, its senior mission chief for Sri Lanka.

The NCPI captures broader retail price inflation across the island nation and is released with a lag of 21 days every month.

The Colombo Consumer Price Index (CCPI), released at the end of each month, eased to 50.6% in February, data showed.

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