© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sri Lankan rupees are seen in a bowl at a vegetable vendor’s shop amid the rampant food inflation, amid Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 29, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

(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 stood 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 the 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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