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Govt prepays Rs 1,350-cr ODA loans to Canada

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Jan. 29

THE Government has prepaid Rs 1,350 crore worth of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans to Canada. With this, the total amount of external loans prematurely retired by the country, taking advantage of its burgeoning forex reserves position, works out to around $4.7 billion.

During 2002-03, the Government prepaid high-cost loans worth $3.03 billion, including Rs 7,793.17 crore ($1.67 billion) to the World Bank and Rs 6,336.79 crore ($1.36 billion) to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). During the current fiscal, it prepaid an additional principal sum of Rs 6,378.29 crore ($1.40 billion) owed to the World Bank.

The latest prepayment of Rs 1,350 crore (nearly $300 million) of bilateral loans from Canada would mean that there are no more outstanding ODA loans owed by India to that country.

The Government had, in June 2003, announced its intention to pre-pay loans taken from all bilateral donors barring the US, Japan, Germany and France. Of its outstanding bilateral debt of Rs 66,316.07 crore as on March 31, 2003, the bulk (Rs 58,825.30 crore) was owed to these four countries. It was decided to prepay the entire balance amount of Rs 7,490.77 crore owed to 14 countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Australia, Kuwait, Spain, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Austria and the Czech & Slovak republics.

"The premature liquidation of the ODA loans taken from Canada marks the first step towards prepaying all high-cost bilateral loans, as a follow-up to the Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh's Budget announcement to review the country's dependence on external donors and discontinue taking fresh bilateral aid from all countries, barring the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, the European Community and the Russian Federation," officials said.

The Government is also scheduled to additionally prepay loans, aggregating Rs 5,187.74 crore (about $1.1 billion), to the ADB during the current fiscal, which will take the total amount prematurely retired to almost $6 billion since February 2003.

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