Loans obtained from China will not be cancelled

The government said that it had no plans of cancelling loans obtained from China and added that such loans were vital for the development of the country.Cabinet Spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told reporters today that the government was renegotiating the terms for the Chinese loans which had been obtained but had no plans to exit from such loans. The matter had been discussed by the Sri Lankan cabinet on Wednesday when it convened for its weekly meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena. Meanwhile, the government also said that Sri Lanka hopes to resume fish exports to EU countries by next year.Rajitha Senaratne said that Sri Lanka had become a prominent fisheries product exporter to the countries of the European Union and following an action plan implemented by the government to lift the ban, it hoped to resume exports by 2016. During the past 10 years, at the request of the government, China has provided loans amounting several billion US dollars in supporting of Sri Lanka’s economic and social development, among which more than half are at the interest rates of only 2 percent. The 28-nation European Union’s European Commission proposed a ban on imports of fish from Sri Lanka from January for not taking steps to combat illegal fishing in the deep seas, thus including Sri Lanka in its ‘Red List’.The European Commission said Sri Lanka did not even have proper legislation in place to prevent and fight illegal fishing and this led the Commission to propose the import ban.“The government’s action plan has 36 aims and Sri Lanka has fulfilled 30 out of the 36 aims and the rest will be fulfilled soon. A satisfactory progress has been achieved regarding the resolving of issues and it is being reported to the EU monthly,” Senaratne said. “We are only renegotiating the terms of the Chinese loans. We have absolutely no plans to retire from them,” he said. “Considering this information presented by the Minister of Fisheries, the cabinet of ministers has noted that as Sri Lanka has dealt satisfactorily in this issue the sanction could be lifted by 2016,” Senaratne noted.Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters to the European Union of high value fishery products such as swordfish and tuna. EU imports in 2013 amounted to 7,400 tonnes of fish worth 74 million euros (US$94 million), according to the Commission.Last year, Sri Lanka exported over 5000 metric tones of fisheries products and made an income of Rs. 9,103 million. (Colombo Gazette)

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