Govt. upbeat on FDI and India support

Friday, 1 February 2013 02:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says ‘Big Brother’ will support Sri Lanka to beat US-backed resolution at UNHRC; confident that FDI will not be affected by move; stresses challenges will be handled “as they come”

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Government is confident of India’s support in facing a second US-backed resolution despite the powerful neighbour voting against it in the first round last year and is resolute it will not affect foreign investment.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was insistent that India would side with Sri Lanka despite Indian media reports to the contrary.

“Our position is that India is our greatest friend and closest neighbour and they have been extremely supportive in many issues and they have been a friend indeed. So we believe that stand. Of course last time they had to opt out, they had given certain reasons, all this we discussed at a diplomatic level. From time to time international relations change for a variety of reasons, but we still believe that they are our greatest friends and we have had that cordiality right throughout,” he told media.

In 2012 India voted for a US-backed resolution calling for greater human rights and reconciliation measures at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This was a crucial move that tipped the balance against Sri Lanka, which had fought against the motion being passed by UNHRC members.

In the immediate aftermath of the Indian vote, bilateral relations between the two countries chilled to the point of President Mahinda Rajapaksa openly criticising the Indian Government. The issue was later smoothed over.

On Thursday The Hindu, a prominent Indian newspaper, reported that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Moore had told Sri Lankan journalists that he was confident India would back the new resolution.  Rambukwella was also adamant that the US resolution would not have a negative impact on the economy and insisted that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) would not be affected.

“As far as FDI is concerned, I don’t think human rights are the reason because in that case there are people investing in countries with wars. There are other reasons as well, like infrastructure, which we are doing, so there are much bigger reasons or more concerns which have to be addressed. Human rights are part of it but it’s not the one and only reason,” he added.

He pointed out that the recent addition of an Investment Promotion portfolio to the Cabinet under the stewardship of Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana proved that the Government was committed to attracting FDI.

The Minister stated that External Affairs Ministry officials and special Presidential appointee Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe were preparing to face the resolution and the Government was confident it could lobby enough votes from member countries to defeat it.

“We have no guilty conscience so we are very confident. In the event that something happens, we feel it is an (US) agenda that they are working on. And these agendas have been there and we are very mindful of it. We are also content with what we have been doing and we will continue to meet the challenge as it arises.”