Q Concerns have also been raised about the country’s external debt, which has been on the rise since 2008. Last year, it stood at USD 24.5 billion and predictions are that borrowings are likely to exceed that figure this year. Does the government have any plans to prune down its foreign borrowing?
The debt of a country is measured systematically in relation to GDP. That is the internationally recognised way to measure debt. During Ranil Wickremesinghe’s time, it was 103 per cent of the GDP; now we have brought down to almost 80 per cent of GDP. So it is a reduction. You can’t go on the dollar rate. A businessman who takes a loan to expand his business will find that his debt is going up, but that does not make him less wealthy. He becomes wealthier as a result of the addition to his assets. The same applies to a country; our national wealth is increasing and this is something we should be proud of. We have highways, airports, harbours, and power plants. Look at how much is being saved as a result of the Norochcholai power plant. If this hadn’t been built, there would have been power cuts by now and industries would have had to close. As the President has said, we have never taken a consumer loan.