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31 March 2016


Present crisis due to govt’s haphazard foreign borrowings - MR

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says that his government did not take negotiations with India on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) forward due to the “misgivings” expressed by wide sections of society. In a statement issued today, he said that incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena recently publicly endorsed the proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India and that all SLFP members serving in the government will now have to make a very personal decision as to where they stand on this matter which will have “far reaching consequences” for Sri Lanka.   “When the President said that it was the ‘old government’ (parana anduwa) that had started negotiations for the CEPA with India, he was not referring to my government. CEPA was initiated in 2002 under the previous UNP government led by Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe.”  “My government did not take the CEPA negotiations forward due to the misgivings expressed by wide sections of society,” Rajapaksa said. He stated that though Indian exports flow into Sri Lanka without any obstruction under the existing free trade agreement, Sri Lankan exports to India have come up against various impediments such as quantity limitations, licensing requirements, non-acceptance of Sri Lankan product certification and state taxes at the Indian end.  Our suggestion to the present government is that such outstanding issues be sorted out to enable Sri Lanka to obtain the due benefit under the existing FTA before the trade relationship is taken to the next level, the Kurunegala District MP said. “It is the height of irresponsibility to sign an ETCA ‘framework’ agreement leaving the specific details to be negotiated later when there are so many unresolved trade issues between the two countries,” he charged.  Rajapaksa further said that two ministers admitted publicly that the ruling government had indeed taken foreign loans amounting to more than 6,361 million USD since March 2015, but had claimed all these loans had to be taken in order to pay off the loans taken at high interest rates by the former UPFA government.  The ex-President said that the project loans taken by his government was long term credit at an interest rate of 2% or less.  “The government borrowed 375 million USD through a development bond issue a few days ago. This combined with the three month 700 million USD currency swap announced by India yesterday, brings the total foreign borrowings of this government from March 2015 to March 2016 to 7,436 million USD.”  Of this amount around half - 3,298 million USD falls due in 2016, he emphasized.  “The present crisis is due to the haphazard and irresponsible foreign borrowings of the present government and not due to any loans taken by previous governments.”

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