Please Forgive

Sri Lanka will ask the Paris Club group of foreign-creditor governments and the International Monetary Fund to allow it to delay debt payments to help it pay for reconstruction projects after the Dec. 26 tsunami. Sri Lanka will ask the Paris Club group of foreign-creditor governments and the International Monetary Fund to allow it to delay debt payments to help it pay for reconstruction projects after the Dec. 26 tsunami. “We have worked out with the IMF, and we are also asking for moratorium from several members of the Paris Club,” Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera said in a telephone interview from Geneva today. “It should be for at least the reconstruction period, which is at least five years.”

Sri Lanka’s annual debt payments are between US$ 552 million and US$ 600 million, Jayasundera said. They are comprised mostly of borrowings from the 19-member Paris Club and China, he said.

The Indian Ocean state owed US$ 10 billion, almost equal to half its economy, to foreign countries at the end of 2004, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s Web site.

Indonesia also is asking for debt relief. Sri Lanka and Indonesia suffered a combined death toll of about 126,000 in the tsunami. Almost 16,