Sri Lanka commercial forex loan repayments pile up: report

Feb 26, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is planning to raise 600 million dollars in commercial debt from the local market in 2012 mostly to roll over existing debt a media report said, not counting a 500 million dollar sovereign bond that also falls due this year. Sri Lanka’s balance of payments had come under pressure from high credit growth, particularly due to unproductive state credit to mis-price imported energy.

However prices have since been revised and interest rates also raised, the rupee partially floated.

However analysts have warned that the rupee ,may continue to come under pressure if the Central Bank intervenes in oil payments and injects liquidity to ‘sterilize’ the dollar sales. The Sunday Times newspaper said the cabinet of ministers had been given a proposal on February 08, involving the raising of 600 million dollars in 2011 to repay 467 million dollars in maturing commercial debt and 133 million dollars in fresh deficit financing.

The newspaper said 317 million dollars would be used to repay so-called ‘Sri Lanka Development Bonds’ (SLDB) maturing in March and June 2011. SLDB’s are floating rate bonds issued in the local market.

According to publicly available data, a 45 million dollar 2-year SLDB tranche falls due on March 26, a 176 million dollar tranche falls due on June 30 and a 41 million dollar 3-year bond falls due on September 22.

The newspaper said in August and November another 150 million dollars in commercial loans from foreign currency banking units are maturing. Typically these loans are from state commercial banks.

A further 85.3 million US dollars would be spent on interest on SLDBs, the report said.

On October 24, Sri Lanka’s maiden sovereign bond, a 500 million dollar, 5-year security also falls due. Sri Lanka also has bi-lateral and multi-lateral foreign loans.