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US$ 1 billion to be raised from bond issues

SRI LANKA plans to raise one billion dollars through bonds issued to international investors this year to pay for key infrastructure projects, Treasury Secretary P. B. Jayasundera said yesterday.

The first tranche of the issue could be out as early as next month.

The Government plans to build roads, power and railroads spending nearly 1.5 billion dollars, Jayasundera said.

"We will issue between 500 million to a billion dollars worth of bonds in the international market this year," he said addressing a meeting of business leaders.

The Central Bank is talking to local commercial banks on structuring the issue. Bankers close to the deal have suggested that the Government start off with a 100-million dollar issue, test the market and then go for a higher issue.

Citibank N.A. last month helped Sri Lanka raise 100 million dollars through a syndicated loan, which was priced at 95 basis points above the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR.

Bankers close to the issue said the Citibank deal had been the most attractive for the Government so far. Jayasundera is keen to issue lower denominations to encourage overseas resident Sri Lankans to subscribe to the bond issue. - AFP

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