Opposition Parties Stand United for Careful Domestic Debt Restructuring
In a press conference held at the Leader of the Opposition’s office, MP Harsha de Silva, expressed his thoughts and suggestions regarding the upcoming domestic debt-restructuring plan in Sri Lanka. He divulged that opposition parties, while cautious about the potential consequences, would discuss the need for careful domestic debt optimization if deemed absolutely necessary. Tomorrow, the opposition parties are scheduled to meet and discuss their stance on this crucial issue, which has garnered significant attention nationwide. The government plan is set to be presented to the Cabinet on the 28th and will subsequently undergo deliberation in the Committee on Public Finance over the following two days. Pending agreement at the Party Leaders’ meetings, a special parliamentary session is planned for the weekend of July 1st and 2nd to debate the plan.
Cautionary Approach Highlighted from the Start
MP Harsha highlighted the importance of a cautious approach toward domestic debt optimization. Their blueprint, published last year and revised earlier this year, stressed the need to guarantee the stability of Sri Lanka’s financial sector and prevent any unfair treatment of depositors, particularly the EPF and ETF. The Opposition firmly opposes any haircut on domestic debt and warned against it. He referred to a haircut as a ‘Do Not Cross’ line.
Strong Opposition to Damaging Measures, Willingness to Act for the Nation
He said while his party was totally opposed to any plans that include a haircut on domestic debt, they remain committed to protecting the interests of the nation. They emphasize the importance of fair treatment for pension funds and depositors without causing further harm to the economy. Their primary focus is on safeguarding the country’s interests and ensuring that any necessary measures are implemented in a responsible and cautious manner.
Urgent Need for Economic Growth
Sri Lanka’s economy is contracting daily, regressing to the GDP per capita levels in 2013. To achieve the status of a developed country, as outlined by the President, Sri Lanka needs to sustain a minimum growth rate of 6.5% annually from 2027 to 2048. Merely maintaining the current pace or IMF projected 3% by 2027 will not be sufficient to propel the nation forward. Additionally, the country faces challenges such as reduced demand in global markets and the displacement of low-skilled labor due to technological advancements and automation.
The Promise of Domestic Debt Optimization
The primary advantage of pursuing a domestic debt optimization program lies in the reduction of substantially increased interest rates, allowing the economy to regain stability and promote growth. MP Harsha emphasized that the focus should be on optimizing domestic debt rather than restructuring it entirely. The government has indicated that only treasury bonds will be subject to optimization, not treasury bills. Thus, as treasury bonds carry higher risk, they demand a risk premium. Lowering the risk through the debt optimization program will subsequently lead to a decrease in interest rates, benefiting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and other businesses, revitalizing the economy. This urgency underscores the importance of implementing the domestic debt optimization plan as soon as possible.
Commitment to Protecting People and Creditors
MP Harsha de Silva and the opposition parties are prepared to draft laws and regulations in Parliament to safeguard the interests of the people and creditors. This commitment aims to ensure that any domestic debt restructuring measures are conducted in a manner that prioritizes the well-being of all stakeholders involved. They emphasize the need for transparency and accountability throughout the process.
Reviving the MSME Sector
One of the potential positive outcomes of an effective domestic debt optimization program would be the revival of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector. MP Harsha highlighted the importance of providing support and opportunities for these businesses, which are currently facing significant challenges. A well-executed debt optimization program could help uplift the MSME sector from its current state and foster growth and economic recovery.
As Sri Lanka grapples with the pressing issue of domestic debt, MP Harsha and the opposition parties stress the importance of careful consideration and a cautious approach. They stand united in their determination to protect the interests of the nation while exploring viable strategies for domestic debt optimization. By striking the right balance between economic stability, fair treatment of depositors, and sustainable growth, Sri Lanka can overcome its challenges and pave the way for a brighter future.