Former president and MP Mahinda Rajapaksa today said the Active Liability Management Bill introduced by the government would give wings to the borrowing spree of the government.
In a statement, Mr. Rajapaksa said the government has introduced the Active Liability Management Bill seeking authorization to borrow over Rs. 1 trillion from local and foreign sources, over and above the yearly borrowing limit set by parliament.
“The Yahapalana government has been irresponsible and reckless in borrowing money from its inception. Under my government, Sri Lanka Development Bonds (SLDBs) were issued only twice a year to borrow an average of around USD 350 million per year. However, in the year 2015, the yahapalana government issued SLDBs on no less than nine occasions, followed by six in 2016 and four in 2017 and have up to now borrowed USD 7.7 billion from this source alone,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the Auditor General stated that nobody knows what Sri Lanka’s real national debt is because debt had been concealed over the past ten years, by being shifted to state owned enterprises and other government entities without being included in the public debt.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the Central Bank had to step into reassure the financial markets by issuing a statement contradicting the Auditor General’s claims and pointing out that Sri Lanka’s debts are accurately recorded and that that Sri Lanka have an unblemished record in servicing that debt.
“The Auditor General’s Constitutionally mandated task is to audit all agencies of the central government, all provincial councils and local authorities and every enterprise in which the state owns more than 50% of the shares. He is the last person in the country who can claim that he does not know how much is owed by each of these institutions,” he said.
Under the proposed law, Mr. Rajapaksa said the executive will be able to raise over Rs. 1 trillion in debt and make regulations about how that money will be used.
“Given the scandals that have already taken place in the issuance of public debt under this government, the danger inherent in this proposed law is obvious. Therefore, the Active Liability Management Bill should be resolutely opposed by every citizen of Sri Lanka,” he said.