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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Unfair to accuse Dr. Nandalal – Minister Ali Sabri

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Claiming that the decision to declare a default on foriegn loans was taken following discussions with the President and all other relevant authorities, Minister Ali Sabri said today that it was unreasonable to accuse Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe of the decision.

The minister told Parliament that he was ready to take the responsibility as the then Finance Minister and said levelling accusations at the CB Governor should be stopped.

“If there is any problem with that decision, the responsibility lies with me. I was the Finance Minister at that time. I am ready to face those. But, don’t go after honest and bold officials who have done what is best for the country. He never wanted this, it was we who wanted him to come here. Former President wanted him here and he came and did a splendid job for the country. There is some sort of a conspiracy is being webbed to get rid of him. I think, we are not in agreement with that,” he said.

Minister Sabri said Sri Lanka had to settle a loan of US$ 203 million by April and that there was only US$ 17 million in the reserves.

“We did not hold back paying the loans while funds in our hand. There was no sufficient funds in the reserves to settle the payment. We wanted funds to settle for other essentials such as food and medicine. We had to give priority to them rather than paying loans. We discussed with the President, Finance Ministry officials, international experts and all those concerned before arriving at a decision to go for a default,” he said. The Minister said the country had faced a default by April even before officially announcing the default. “Local banks had defaulted US$ 99 million in total by April 12. There was nothing to default. We had already faced a default,” he said. The Minister said that there was only USD 17 million in reserves when former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivaard Cabraal left the position and that most of the reserves had been used to stabilise the rupee aganst the Dollar. We have managed to stabilise the rupee at least of the current rate due to the decision we took,” he said.

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