SL seeks to identify ISB holders to help restructure debt

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Colombo, Aug 2 (IANS) The Sri Lankan cabinet on Tuesday said that it has approved a proposal to seek the services of two international companies to identify who holds the country’s International Sovereign Bond (ISB) and to communicate the government’s restructuring plans with them amid the ongoing economic crisis.

Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the media that Sri Lanka is is unable to pay its foreign debt due to the biggest economic crisis since independence, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We need to work our way through this. We need to work with the International Monetary Fund and we need to restructure our debt. Sri Lanka has suspended the repayment of two types of loans, i.e., bilateral loans and ISBs,” he said.

Gunawardena said that ISBs are the biggest portion of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt as the country has issued ISBs worth about $18 billion from 2007 to 2019.

“A lot of investors have bought these. There are many investors from the US, the UK, France, Germany. We have to identify them, and this is a complex process,” he said.

Gunawardena said President Ranil Wickremesinghe, also the Minister of Finance, presented a cabinet paper on Monday and proposed that Sri Lanka secure the services to identify who holds the country’s ISBs and to communicate the government’s restructuring plans with them.

“The cabinet approved the proposal. This problem needs the inputs of foreign experts because this is an international problem,” he said.

According to Fitch Ratings, Sri Lanka’s cumulative foreign-currency debt-servicing payments between 2022 and 2026 amount to about $26 billion.



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