Government has the ability to repay the $ 6.9 billion loans due this year – Finance Minister

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Although Sri Lanka has to pay 138,000 million rupees (US $ 6.9 billion) loans this year, the government has the ability to repay the debt properly, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa emphasized.

He pointed out that Sri Lanka has so far repaid the loans properly without any delay and that the present government is ready to repay the loan installments and interest on time in the future as well.

The Finance Minister also stated that relief given to the people of the country and development activities will never be hampered while repaying the loans.

Speaking at a special press conference held at the Ministry of Finance on Monday, Minister Basil Rajapaksa said at present, most of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt owes to China, Japan and India and steps should be taken to increase the country’s revenue in order to repay the loans owed to those countries and international organizations.

He pointed out that this task is being done in collaboration with the people of the country and that the income could be increased very soon through the tourism industry and the remittances of Sri Lankans going abroad for employment.

Mr. Rajapaksa asserted that the Sri Lankan government would never act in a manner that would undermine confidence and that there was no need to worry about debt settlement in this situation. He said steps would be taken to bring the rupee to a stable level.

In this situation, steps will be taken to increase government revenue, but not by raising taxes, he said, adding that taxes were reduced as soon as the current government came to power.

He said that no decision has been taken to go to the International Monetary Fund to find foreign exchange, given the situation in the country, but would hold talks with them. In additions discussions will be held with the Asian Development Bank, the European Union as well as with countries such as the United States.

He also said that there is a potential to earn a large amount of foreign exchange from the 230,000 Sri Lankans who go abroad for employment annually, and by December 31, 2021, about 220,000 Sri Lankans had gone abroad for employment.

The Minister of Finance stated that the tourism industry, which has been in a slump due to the Covid 19 epidemic, is currently being revived with the aim of attracting around 2.5 million foreign tourists annually. Accordingly, the target is to attract 6,850 tourists a day and if that target is met, there is a possibility of earning foreign exchange.

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