ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 12

Inefficient Govt. pawning the nation : Ranil

By Athula Bandara

Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe charged the Government was getting loans after pawning the nation while increased commercial borrowings have made the present amount of non-disbursed concessionary loans was Rs. 500 billion with a pay back period of 20-40 years.

Addressing the third of the mass rallies organized by the UNP and SLFP (Mangala) group at Anuradhapura on Friday, Mr. Wickremesinghe said though the disbursements forecast by the Treasury for 2007 was Rs. 17 billion only 25% was utilised so far.
“The Sahodara Samagama has extorted 10% - that is US $ 80 million - and there is about another US$ 20 million in their secret accounts,” Mr. Wickremesinghe charged adding that they cannot invest in the United States because there are petitions against the Sahodara Samagama in the US.

“The interest rates in Europe and Japan are very low. Therefore they have created a new bond issue in Sri Lanka to give themselves a higher interest rate. It is the $ 500 million bond that would be issued by HSBC on behalf of the Government. It is not even a short term loan. It is for 10 years and the interest rate may be 7% or even more, which means a US$ 35 million interest on the Bond issue,” he alleged.

The Opposition Leader said that it was a good rate of return for foreign investors including the Sahodara Samagama.“We have to pay back a total of US$ 850 million in 10 years time. The bond proceeds in 2007 at the current exchange rate will convert to Rs 56 billion. By 2017 if the rupee continues to depreciate like today, it will be anything between Rs. 183 – Rs. 230 for a US$,” he said.

Therefore, by 2017, with the dollar at Rs. 183 Sri Lanka’s repayment cost will be Rs 156 billion, he said.“We make a loss of US $ 10 billion on this deal. In the next years we will have to return Rs. 15.6 billion on this Bond and about another Rs. 12 billion on the earlier Bonds. This will total to Rs 27.6 billion,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said inquiring as to who would pay for these through VAT, higher taxes, duties etc. as each person will have to pay Rs. 13,500 for the next 10 years at the rate of Rs 1350 a year.

He said the UNP has informed HSBC that the party was not prepared to pay that amount and the party was not ready to force people to pay it either.“Today the average person can buy milk powder only by the tablespoon and not by the kilogram. Some of you have given up drinking milk because you cannot afford it. You cannot afford to spend for on bus fare and have to walk instead. You are not lucky like the two dogs belonging to the Ven. Meddhananda Thera who travels in a Benz. Such priests must have done a lot of merit in their previous birth,” he said adding that maybe the JHU cannot understand the suffering of the people.

He said the UNP was waiting for the answer regarding the radio licence as one day a businessman told Ravi Karunanayake and me that he (Medhananda Thera) had bought the radio licence for Rs. 120 million. He spoke of Rasputin of Russia, who was a powerful clergyman, as an example and said that he clothed his dog in a fur coat during winter, when the average Russian could not afford even a thick shirt.

“In those days, Rasputin and the Russian nobility gave meat to the dogs when the average man could not afford even potatoes. Finally, Lenin brought an end to this state of affairs. That is why we have resolved through mass agitation to achieve the twin objectives of lessening your burdens and regaining your sovereign rights”, he said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.