PM says won’t turn to IMF again, but Chinese loans not an issue

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday that Sri Lanka has turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) too often and should learn to manage on its own, but denied that Chinese loans and investments are creating a debt trap.

“We have been going to the IMF a bit too often … Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and I hope that we will be able to manage,” he told CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Sri Lanka was bailed out by the International Monetary Fund in 2009 and mid-2016.

“(The) IMF saved us at a crucial period, I must acknowledge it, but we must learn now to go on our own,” Wickremesinghe said.

Wickremesinghe also said he didn’t believe the country was falling into a debt trap caused by high-interest Chinese loans.

“We are dealing with China. There are a fair amount of Chinese investments. There are China loans…I can’t see it as a threat.”

He added that the issues Sri Lanka had with the Hambantota port and the Mattala airport have been sorted as these are now being turned into profitable ventures.