Sri Lanka finance minister warns on worsening debt crisis

22 May 18

Sri Lanka’s debt crisis will worsen as a series of costly projects commissioned by the former government has resulted in record-high repayments, the country’s finance minister has said.

Mangala Samaraweera said payment of capital and interest would reach $2.84bn this year.

“The crisis will further worsen next year,” he said, adding that repayments are forecast to reach $4.28bn in 2019.

"Repayments will go to pay the debts that were obtained during the Rajapaksa regime,” he added.

The country’s former administration, under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, secured two high-interest loans worth $1.5bn in the final year of its decade-long rule.

The current finance minister said the former administration relied heavily on China to finance infrastructure projects, of which many ended up costing the economy $87bn.

Sri Lanka is currently drawing down a three-year loan programme with the International Monetary Fund, approved in 2016. In its latest review, the IMF said the country was on track with the reforms agreed to receive the finance assistance, including two major tax reforms.

The programme’s Inland Revenue Act was implemented in April this year.

IMF acting chair and deputy managing director Mitsuhiro Furusawa said: “The authorities remain committed to the economic reforms under the programme and have undertaken measures to improve government revenue and accumulate international reserves.

“Going forward, it is important to build on the progress made and accelerate reforms to reduce fiscal and external vulnerabilities.”

Did you enjoy this article?

Related articles

Have your say

CIPFA latest