Lanka economy to grow 7.2 pct in 2015


The Sri Lankan economy is expected to expand 7.2 percent this year despite a sluggish increase in the first three months of 2015, on higher growth in tourism, banking and garment manufacturing, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said on Wednesday (17).

Minister Ravi Karunanayake's forecast is higher than what economists expect and is above the Central Bank's estimate of 7 percent growth for the year.

The Central Bank said in April it expected growth to slow from last year's 7.4 percent year-on-year because of a slowdown in Government-led construction and subdued private investment in the first quarter amid corruption probes on several Chinese-financed infrastructure projects.

"We expect a 7.2 percent growth this year. Despite the slow construction sector, tourism, garment manufacturing and banking are growing faster," Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Reuters News Agency. "There are a lot of foreign direct investments expected this year."

The $75 billion economy grew at an annual 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, the same pace it recorded in the last three months of 2014 and hovering at its slowest pace since the first quarter of 2013, the statistics office said on Monday.

Growth in the construction sector slowed to 4.1 percent in the first quarter, less than a third of the annual average growth rate of 12.8 percent in the last eight years, the Government data showed.