Former officials ‘deceived’ China – PM

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China was ‘deceived’ by former bureaucrats when obtaining the SWAP facility of USD 1.5 billion in 2021, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, making a special statement in Parliament yesterday (7), with regard to the country’s financial situation and the steps being planned by the Government to overcome the crisis situation.

Wickremesinghe elaborated how Sri Lanka broke friendly ties with nations such as India, Japan and China, and requested the Committee on Public Finance (COPF) to conduct an inquiry into the suspension of projects granted to Sri Lanka by the country’s long-time allies for unstated reasons.

“Some time ago we borrowed under the SWAP facility from the People’s Republic of China. There was a condition regarding that loan.

We can use that money only if our country has enough foreign reserves for three months. We have not had foreign exchange reserves for three months since the loan was taken.  Our former officials took loans to deceive the country.  We will not be debt free under that condition. We have requested the Chinese Government to consider removing that condition from the agreement that has been signed with them,” the PM said requesting China to look into the matter favourably.

In the statement, Wickremesinghe pointed out that Sri Lanka was being marginalised due to poor foreign policies.

“India, China and Japan are leading the list of countries that provide us with loans and assistance. Relations with these countries, which have always been strong are now broken. Those relationships need to be rebuilt,” he said.

Japan is now unhappy with Sri Lanka due the failure to formally notify Japan of the suspension of certain projects. Sometimes the reasons for these suspensions were not even stated.

According to reports submitted by an individual, some projects undertaken by Japan in our country have been halted midway. Japan and India had agreed to supply us with two LNG power plants.

The CEB stopped these two projects without any justifiable reason. Japan had agreed to provide about $ 3 billion worth of projects to our country by 2019. All these projects were put on hold for no reason, the PM noted.

Wickremesinghe said he is currently holding discussions with foreign diplomats and organisations. Many representatives of these countries and international organisations have agreed to support our country during this difficult time, he said adding, the United Nations has arranged for a worldwide public appeal on 9 June to seek support to provide humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka.

“Through this project, they plan to provide $48 million over a four-month period for the food, agriculture and health sectors,” he said.

BY Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake