The visiting Finland Economic Affairs and Employment Deputy Minister Petri Peltonen exchanges the respective MoUs with Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment Ministry Secretary Wasantha Deshapriya, Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Deputy Minister Faizal Cassim and Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Hettiarachchi yesterday - Pix by Ruwan Walpola
By Uditha Jayasinghe
Five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on education, digitisation, health and energy were signed yesterday between the Sri Lankan Government and its Finnish counterpart as well as the private sectors of the two countries.
Economic Affairs and Development Finnish Deputy Minister Petri Peltonen is in Sri Lanka this week with a Finnish business delegation made up of 17 prominent companies seeking collaboration and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. The visit sees the second delegation from Finland to Sri Lanka in the last six months and was prompted by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to Finland last year.
The aim is to increase engagement in specific sectors where Finnish companies have become global leaders and use the synergy to foster development in Sri Lanka. Finnish Ambassador to Sri Lanka Harri Kamarainen outlined the deep historical connections between the two countries and touched on the trade ties that existed hundreds of years ago. He expressed confidence that the two countries could forge new partnerships in the coming years.
Deputy Minister Petri Peltonen signed three MoUs with the Sri Lankan Government focused on vocational education and cooperation in the areas of digitalisation and health. Two other private sector MoUs on education and bio fertiliser were also signed at the event. The Ambassador noted that two more MoUs on IT with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and a second by LTL Holdings to build a 100MW flexible thermal power plant in Bangladesh would also be inked.
“Education, clean renewable energy and advanced digitalisation are among the key focus areas and I think those two are highly relevant for our two countries and really connecting the best of Finland with the best of Sri Lanka. In the field of bioenergy there is much we can do together. Sri Lanka is blessed with great sources of renewable energy and the Finnish specialty is bio energy. This is something that is strongly in our energy policy and I’m glad to say Finland is the number one country in Europe when it comes to bio-based renewable energy sources. Today 40% of our total energy consumption is from renewable and the aim is to increase this to 50%,” Deputy Minister Peltonen said.
Clean technology that Finnish companies could provide would be a strong driver in the economic development of Sri Lanka, he added. In digitalisation, the Deputy Minister spoke of the well-known Nokia but also pointed out that several other global companies were also spearheading ventures in this area in other parts of the world.
“We understand that these MoUs are not the end result but rather the instruments for improving cooperation and building on the commitment and tangible results in those areas that have been focused on by the Prime Ministers of the two countries,” he said.