International Monetary Cooperation Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama told Parliament yesterday that the investing in Greek bonds by the Central Bank had been done in accordance with the regulations of the Monetary Board.
The losses that could have resulted in had been avoided and some profit earned, the minister said, in response to questions raised by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who made a special statement in Parliament earlier in the day questioning the Greek bond issue.
The Minister said the Central Bank, which controlled the foreign reserves, had recorded Rs. 430 billion profit out of investments made in international markets. Profit from trading gold reserves exceeded that amount, he said.
All bonds had been issued by the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Economy and Finance Public Debt Management Agency on behalf of the Government of Greek, Dr. Amunugama said. It was the official authority for issuing government bonds in Greek similar to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in the case of Sri Lankan government bonds, he said.
Minister Amunugama noted that the bonds had been issued in Euro, a major global currency supported by the strength of the European Union led by Germany and France. According to data by the Bank of International Settlements, approximately 14 percent of global reserves had been held in Euro in 2011 and in the overall currency market, the Euro share was about 30 percent, the Minister said.
All bonds had been purchased on April 5, 2011 and they would reach maturity in 2015. The situation in the Euro Zone had taken a turn for the worse several weeks after the investment was made, and following the volatility, in mid July 2011, the Central Bank had sold a part of Greek bonds with a face value of Euro five million at a loss of US$ 1.1 million. That measure had been taken to mitigate the risk of the Greek investments losing further value due to subsequent developments in the Euro Zone.
Subsequently, when it was becoming further evident that the unfolding uncertainty was impacting on the Euro bonds in general and Greek bonds in particular, it had been decided to dispose of a further Euro ten million face value of Greek bonds at a loss of US$ 5.5 million in November 2011, thereby leaving only a further Euro 15 million face value of Greek Government bonds to be carried forward. Accordingly, in all, the loss due to investment in Greek bonds in 2011 was US$ 6.6 million and such losses had been already taken into consideration in computing the profit or gains for the year 2011, amounting to US$ 430 million, the minister said.