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Mangala invites MR for public debate on national debt, Namal questions his priorities

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said today that he would like to invite former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a public debate on national debt stock and debt servicing as the former Finance Minister.

Early this week the minister had warned Sri Lanka’s debt crisis will worsen as a series of costly projects commissioned by the former government has resulted in record-high repayments.

Mr Samaraweera said payment of capital and interest would reach $2.84bn this year.

“The crisis will further worsen next year,” he said, adding that repayments are forecast to reach $4.28bn in 2019.

“Repayments will go to pay the debts that were obtained during the Rajapaksa regime,” he added.

The country’s former administration, under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, secured two high-interest loans worth $1.5bn in the final year of its decade-long rule.

The current finance minister said the former administration relied heavily on China to finance infrastructure projects, of which many ended up costing the economy $87bn.

Sri Lanka is currently drawing down a three-year loan programme with the International Monetary Fund, approved in 2016. In its latest review, the IMF said the country was on track with the reforms agreed to receive the finance assistance, including two major tax reforms.

Retorting to the challenge the former President’s son MP Namal Rajapakse asked why the Finance Minister was focusing on political debates amidst the current floods experienced in certain part of country.

He took to Twitter to question as to why over the past 3 years, the minister had focused on criticizing President Rajapaksa while forgetting to fulfill promises made to the people.

It’s not clear if the former president will accept the challenge to debate with the current Finance Minister.

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