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FINANCIAL CHRONICLE™ » DAILY CHRONICLE™ » Sri Lanka's main opposition calls for a change in government debt management

Sri Lanka's main opposition calls for a change in government debt management

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Redbulls

Redbulls
Director - Equity Analytics
Director - Equity Analytics
Jun 12, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva has called for a change in the government's debt management.

Dr. de Silva has stated that a change in the government's debt management was needed since Sri Lanka's first sovereign bond of US$ 500 million is coming in for settlement in October in an unprecedented single installment.

He has observed that traditionally the annual Appropriation Bill only refers to a debt ceiling in one sentence and relies on officials to determine the best terms and conditions for its debt.

Issuing a statement, he has however noted that given the seriousness of the issue where at present the country's tax revenue is insufficient to meet the annual debt repayment obligation, consisting of the minimum interest and principal payment, and the composition of foreign debt changing rapidly from soft loans to commercial loans, perhaps the time has come to reconsider this position.

He has argued that given the 'total control of public finance' is with Parliament as per Article 148 of the Constitution not only income and expenditure but government debt should fall within this broad purview.

According to Dr. de Silva, while Parliament is asked to approve negligible tax revisions billions of dollars are borrowed on terms and conditions that are not conducive for sustainable development of the nation.

He has called for a nonpartisan approach to arrive at a consensus, perhaps even via committees, on how Parliament can exercise at least some control on the nation's borrowing programme.

Dr. de Silva has pointed out that regardless of Government statements that it gets aid from China, the Finance Ministry had revealed that for the entire year 2011 monies have not been agreed upon as grants and the totality of the US$ 785 million from China were loans, and a majority of them on high-interest basis.
http://www.colombopage.com/archive_12/Jun12_1339475495JR.php

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