By Chadeepa Wettasinghe
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday revealed that the public debt burden in reality is at 88.9 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Rs.8.82 trillion, instead of the 75 percent figure which was flaunted about by the previous regime.“The government budget deficit does not include borrowings made by State-owned Enterprises for infrastructure projects. The t otal outstanding of these borrowings as at end 2014 was Rs.308 billion,” he said.
He further added that the government has given Rs.524 billion as treasury guarantees for such i nfrastructure development, which included Puttalam Coal Power Project, Hambantota Port and Mattala International Airport Former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal recently said that public debt was 75 percent of GDP, reducing from 79.2 percent in 2012 and 78.3 percent in 2013.
He further said that the figure would reduce to 71 percent of GDP this year and 67 percent of GDP in 2016.Karunanayake refuted, saying that taking into consideration off-balance sheet items, public debt was around 88.9 percent, reducing from 93.4 percent in 2013 and 90.4 percent in 2012.
Per capita debt has been calculated at Rs.427, 220, while Karunanayake said that annual per capita income was Rs. 477, 600.“The bitter truth was camouflaged with sweetened falsehood. ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’ the phrase ideally fitted the picture. GDP and Public Debt moved benignly in their rich vocabulary,” he said.He also noted t hat most t hese borrowings will mature before 2020.