The MP in his statement makes two claims: (1) the majority of domestic debt is in treasury bonds, which amounts to approximately LKR 9 trillion and (2) of the total treasury bonds, 45% is in banks and 43% was borrowed from the EPF and ETF. To evaluate these claims, FactCheck.lk consulted the Central Bank (CBSL) Annual Report 2022 for data on domestic debt as of 31 December 2022.
CBSL data indicates that Sri Lanka’s total domestic debt is LKR 15.03 trillion, equivalent to 62.27% of GDP in 2022. Of this total debt, LKR 8.71 trillion is in treasury bonds, representing 57.93% of total domestic debt. These figures align with the MP’s first claim that the majority of domestic debt is in treasury bonds.
CBSL data also indicates that LKR 3.12 trillion in treasury bonds is owned by licensed commercial banks, and LKR 0.75 trillion is owned by licensed specialised banks. Together, these institutions own 44.43% of total treasury bonds. Retirement (superannuation) funds, including EPF and ETF, own LKR 3.72 trillion in treasury bonds. This figure constitutes 42.72% of the total treasury bonds. These figures align with the MP’s second claim. It means that the retirement funds (mostly EPF and ETF), hold as many government bonds as the entirety of the commercial and specialised banks in Sri Lanka.
Therefore, we classify his 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.
Exhibit 1: Domestically owned debt as of 31 December 2023
Source: CBSL Annual Report 2022, Appendix 15, Table 104, 107
Central Bank (CBSL) Annual Report 2022, available at; https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/publications/economic-and-financial-reports/annual-reports/annual-report-2022 [last accessed 24 May 2023].