President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Sri Lanka on Sunday appealed to India to extend $ 1.1 billion in urgent financing support to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the Government of India could provide $ 1.1 billion special SWAP facility to top up $ 400 million under SAARC Facility, it would enormously help Sri Lanka in dealing with our foreign exchange issues,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the telephone.
In turn, the Indian Premier assured that he was personally committed to help Sri Lanka.
“We are ready to help under terms that are favourable to Sri Lanka,” the Rajapaksa’s media office said in a statement.
Modi had suggested to Rajapaksa to appoint an official to work directly on this regard with the Colombo based Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay.
The two leaders over the phone held a very constructive and cordial dialog and in the face of the COVID-19 crisis, they agreed to further strengthen all aspects of the bilateral relations.
President Rajapaksa appreciated the opportunity to discuss matters of mutual interest with the Indian Premier and thanked him for the support extended by India to help Sri Lanka face these difficult times. India’s gift of 10 tons of medical supplies proved to be very useful, said the President in appreciation.
“I believe India has managed the COVID-19 pandemic well,” noted President. “I must commend Your Excellency’s efforts, particularly the economic stimulus package you have introduced to help the disadvantaged groups.”
Responding, PM Modi noted that even though it is not easy to manage a population of more than 1.3 billion, about 75% of the spread of the virus has been contained.
The Indian Premier commended President Rajapaksa as a leader with a clear vision with the ability to take tough and quick decisions. “According to the information I have received, Sri Lanka has managed the crisis successfully,” further commented PM Modi. That credit belongs to President Rajapaksa, continued the Indian Premier.
President Rajapaksa sought the intervention of PM Modi to revive some of the key projects as Sri Lanka strives to restore the economy. He asked PM Modi to “direct those responsible from India’s side to expedite construction of the East Terminal of the Colombo Port as early as possible as it will be a significant boost to our economic landscape”.
“I am trying to promote value added industrial and agricultural activities,” explained President, “and will be happy if you could encourage Indian investors to start such investments, including Indian companies already in Sri Lanka to increase domestic value addition in the context of COVID-19 economic priorities.”
The two leaders agreed to continue with the ongoing bilateral projects that bring direct benefits to people and prioritise food and health securities.