By Chandani Kirinde
France is actively working with other members of the Paris Club group of creditors to ensure that an agreement is reached as soon as possible to assist the country to overcome its on-going debt crisis, the new French Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jean-François Pactet said yesterday.
“We all can agree that it is in the interest of everyone concerned that an agreement is found soon. Paris Club members are working quite keenly to see such an agreement is finalised,” Ambassador Pactet said.
Speaking to a group of journalists last afternoon, the French Ambassador said that since August, the Paris Club has been working continuously, sharing information with creditors to expedite the process.
“There are positive discussions taking place. We are reaching out to the creditors in order to come to a solution as soon as possible,” the Ambassador said.
He said that it is in the interest of everyone that there is an agreement as soon as possible. “We (France) want to be as helpful as much as possible,” he said.
Ambassador Pactet who assumed duties in Colombo in October said that his mandate is to increase France’s engagement with Sri Lanka as part of its global program which seeks to increase engagement in the Indian Ocean and Pacific regions.
“Our diplomacy is increasingly concentrating on global issues such as climate change and sustainability and to achieve progress and get results, engagement in the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific is strategically important,” he said.
The Ambassador said that 2023 will be a special year for Sri Lanka as it celebrates 75 years of independence. It will also be a special year for Sri Lanka-France relations as the two countries also mark 75 years of diplomatic relations next year.
“We hope to use this opportunity to showcase our relationship and take a look at everything we have achieved and set out future goals and new areas of cooperation,” he said.
Debt talks extend to third round
The third meeting between bilateral creditors and the Government concluded yesterday in Colombo.
“We appreciate the progressive and constructive engagements,” State Minister for Finance Shehan Semasinghe said. “We wish to reiterate that we will maintain an equal, comparable and transparent debt treatment policy,” he said via a tweet.
Sri Lanka’s outstanding debt due to bilateral creditors amount to $ 14 billion of which 52% is to China. Others include Japan and India.