Colombo, November 4 (NIA): China has given loans to Sri Lanka at various rates of interest, ranging from 2 percent to 8 percent, which, on an average, works out to be in excess of 5 percent, Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said Thursday evening.
He was reacting to Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang’s contention at a press conference here, that China has been very generous in giving Sri Lanka loans at the rate of 2 percent.
Karunanayake explained that while development loans are at 2 percent, there are commercial loans given at an interest of 6 to 8 percent. Therefore, on an average, Chinese loans have come at an interest rate in excess of 5 percent. Loans from the international lending agencies come at less than 2 percent, he pointed out.
Earlier, Karunanayake had told newspersons in Kandy, that if the Chinese had actually given all the loans at 2 percent as the envoy claimed, Sri Lanka would be quite happy to pay only 2 percent.
He further said that Sri Lanka has not asked for any more loans from Sri Lanka, as the Chinese Ambassador claimed. Sri Lanka has only re-adjusted the terms so that more work is executed with the money already allocated. Karunanayake also refuted the envoy’s contention that Sri Lanka is taking loans from European countries at 5 percent. “We have not taken a cent from any European country,” he asserted.
Since the Chinese Ambassador had made adverse remarks against conditions in Sri Lanka, and had made barbed comments against him personally, Karunanayake said that diplomatic norms might have been breached.
He had taken the matter up with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the latter had said that he would look into it on Friday.(right)
Meanwhile, the Advisor to the Finance Ministry, R.Paskaralingam, talked to the Chinese Ambassador about the remarks he had reportedly made. But the Ambassador said that the media had quoted him out of context. Upon that Paskaralingam suggested that he issue a statement setting the record straight. The Ambassador said that he would.
Karunanayake had also said that he would release a detailed statement on Friday.