FactCheck evaluated the former MP’s statement using data obtained from the Department of External Resources on foreign loan commitments to Sri Lanka. The analysis was limited—based on the availability of data—to loans received from 2005 to 2019 (Exhibit 1).
During the period, in terms of the value of loans—outside of international sovereign bonds—Japan was the third largest source of borrowing for Sri Lanka overall. Moreover, it was the second largest bilateral lender after China.
Japan has also lent at the most favourable terms. Exhibit 1 shows that the weighted average interest rate of Japanese loans was 0.73%, which is significantly lower than that of other lenders—including other bilateral lenders such as China and multilateral organisations such as the World Bank.
Furthermore, the effective interest on these loans in USD terms is even lower due to: (a) all loans being denominated in JPY (Japanese Yen)—which depreciated against the USD during this period, and (b) the inclusion of concessional terms, such as grace periods prior to initiating repayment.
Thus, in the 2005-2019 period, Japan has provided the highest level of loans at the lowest interest rate to Sri Lanka.
Therefore, we classify the former MP’s statement as TRUE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
NB: To learn more about the calculations behind this fact check, see Verité Research’s upcoming report on foreign financing of infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka: Financing infrastructure: Can “concessional” loans be too expensive?
Exhibit 1: Foreign loan commitments received by Sri Lanka, by lender (2005-2019)
- Loans with interest rates which have any variable elements at any period have been classified as “variable interest rates”.
- Variable interest rates were calculated as effective LIBOR + margin rates. The effective LIBOR rate for the variable loans have been obtained as per calculations made in The Present Value (PV) Monitoring Tool of the IMF where the rates are based on an average projected rate for the six month USD LIBOR over the following 10 years (2020-2029).
- When loans with multiple interest rates for different tranches/periods had different interest rates the highest rate was used for calculating the above numbers, and service/consultant fees on loans have not been included in the interest rate assessment.
- Department of External Resources, Foreign Loans Commitments with Terms and Conditions
- Verité Research, Financing infrastructure: Can “concessional” loans be too expensive?, July 2020.
- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FRED Economic Data, available at: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/
- International Monetary Fund, IMF Exchange Rates, available at: https://www.imf.org/external/np/fin/ert/GUI/Pages/Report.aspx?CT=%27USA%27&EX=SDRC&P=DateRange&Fr=632401344000000000&To=637133472000000000&CF=Compressed&CUF=Period&DS=Ascending&DT=Blank
- XE.com, Current and Historical Rate Tables, available at: https://www.xe.com/currencytables/?from=SAR&date=2019-12-31