Repayment of Fiji’s debt of about $100 million per year on average; $3 billion in foreign exchange reserves

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Repayment of Fiji’s external debt averages about $100 million per year and $3 billion available in foreign exchange reserves.

This, according to Attorney General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and adds that it is 30 times more than is needed for foreign debt repayments.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was responding to a question posed in parliament by Adi Selai Adimaitoga on why Fiji’s debt “remains sustainable and cannot be compared to the Sri Lankan crisis”.

He said the difference between Fiji and Sri Lanka was a world of different reasoning: “Sri Lanka did not have or does not have sufficient foreign exchange reserves available in the country; it has $7 billion due in foreign debt repayment alone, but only had $2 billion in foreign currency; 7 billion dollars to be paid abroad but only 2 billion dollars.

“Fiji has more than 10 times more revenue available to service its debt,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“Our current revenues exceed $3 billion and debt service is just over $350 million.

“For Fiji to be unable to repay our debt, our revenue will have to fall below $30 million.”

He said that during COVID-19, the government managed to keep revenue at around $2 billion.

“It basically shows, Mr. President, Sir, why Fiji has never defaulted on its debt and why we will never default on its debt.

“Sri Lanka’s income situation is completely different. Simply, it is too low and cannot be compared to Fiji. »

The GA also noted that Sri Lankan lenders have stopped lending to them but that Fijian government lenders “recently lent us five times more than they were lending before and continue and want to lend.”

“These are all credible lenders. They are not improvised lenders. These include the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other institutional investors. nationals.

“For them to want to lend more to Fiji even during COVID-19 means that they know, understand and fully appreciate the economic and financial management capacity of the government.”

He added that the government had accessed $900 million over the past two years in highly concessional debt from JICA and the International Development Association (IDA)-IDA through the World Bank.

“We have a long-term maturity of 40 years, a grace period of 10 years, zero net interest rate and other loans from JICA, Mr. President, Sir, on terms of 15 years with a four-year grace period and an interest rate close to zero.

“Our debt repayments are spread over many years whereas Sri Lankan debt or bond repayments had to be paid in a lump sum immediately.”

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