Sri Lanka’s finance minister has claimed the fall in the rupee to record lows this month is "not as catastrophic as people make it out to be," as the rupee fell to an all time low earlier this week.
"We have been trying to drive Sri Lanka toward an export-oriented economy," said the finance minister, who was attending the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Bali. "And this crisis, in a way, makes people realize the need to do so even more vigorously.”
“I don't consider it a crisis at all," he remarked.
The rupee fell to an all-time low of 171.60 per dollar earlier this week, surpassing the previous low of 171.00 hit on Tuesday.
However Samaraweera did admit that there were worries of capital flight, but said for now "there is certainly not yet fear" among G-24 members, calling on them to "face this challenge together".
"Emerging economies had to face several serious challenges because of the external volatility, and many countries are basically battling it alone," Samaraweera said. "We feel if the crisis is going to get worse ... then I think we have to have a coalition of the willing, who will work out these strategies to meet these challenges."
The finance minister also defended Chinese projects on the island, and claimed his government was on top of debt, though Nomura and Moody’s have been amongst many to express concern over Sri Lanka’s large debt burden and imminent debt repayments.
"Sri Lanka is more or less in control of all these projects and to now call these a Chinese debt trap is a bit unfair. We are very much on top," the finance minister said.
"You have the Darwin harbor in Australia, which has been more or less given over to the Chinese. So many harbors and ports in Europe that the Chinese have invested in, but no one is calling them Chinese debt traps. Why is that word only being used on Sri Lanka? That gives a false image of the country."
See more from the Nikkei Asian Review here.