Japan finance minister says he discussed debt restructuring progress with Sri Lanka

Japan finance minister says he discussed debt restructuring progress with Sri Lanka

Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said he discussed the progress of debt restructuring with the Sri Lankan President when he visited the island country last week, Reuters reported.

Suzuki said he told the President that Japan would continue to play a leading role in resolving Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Japan also wants Sri Lanka to pay for the termination of a $1.5-billion Japanese-funded light rail project.

Shunichi had told Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and a delegation of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) that Sri Lanka must pay for the cancellation of the project in order to resume stalled projects.

SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the general message conveyed by the Japanese Finance Minister was for Sri Lanka to complete debt restructuring as soon as possible, not to jeopardise the IMF program and repay due for LRT cancellation in order to resume stalled projects.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered the termination of the $1.5-billion Japanese-funded light rail project, saying it is not a “cost-effective solution” for the congested capital Colombo.

Japanese technology including rolling stock was to be used on the rail system, which included 16 stations over 15.7 kilometres (9.8 miles).

Detailed planning and land acquisition for the project in Colombo, which has some of the worst traffic congestion in South Asia, had already been completed and initial construction was under way.

The Japanese loan carried an interest rate of 0.1 percent and was repayable over 40 years with a 12-year grace period. Japan had already funded sections of new expressways and a key bridge to reduce traffic congestion in and out of the capital. (Colombo Gazette)

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