- India agrees to support Sri Lanka, guided by its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy
- Four key pillars of short-medium term economic cooperation will be on food and health, energy, currency swap to address BoP, facilitation of Indian investment in different sectors
- Early modernisation of Trinco tank farm, credit facilities to import essential food items, medicine, fuel from India among other measures
- Modalities to realise these objectives would be finalised early within mutually-agreed timeline
- Rajapaksa expresses gratitude to India for support extended to SL in many spheres
Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Thursday concluded a successful two-day official visit to India, with support from India on four key areas to revive the economy in crisis amidst the COVID pandemic.
Rajapaksa made the visit on the invitation extended by the Indian Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 1 and 2 December. This was also the maiden overseas visit he undertook since assuming office in July.
During the two-day official visit, Minister Rajapaksa had two rounds of joint discussions with his counterpart, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, while he had direct bilateral discussions with the External Affairs Minister Jaishankar later as well.
He also met with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri and National Security Advisor of India Shri Ajit Kumar Doval as well.
Finance Minister Rajapaksa briefed the Indian Ministers of the state of the economy in Sri Lanka and his Government’s approach to addressing the post-COVID challenges.
The Indian Ministers expressed India’s solidarity with Sri Lanka at this challenging economic juncture. They reiterated that India had always stood by Sri Lanka and in the current situation would be guided by its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
The two sides discussed four key pillars for short- and medium-term cooperation in this regard which include; i) food and health security package on an urgent basis that would envisage an extension of a line of credit to cover the import of food, medicines and other essential items from India to Sri Lanka, ii) energy security package that would include a line of credit to cover the import of fuel from India, and an early modernisation of Trincomalee tank farm, iii) offer of a currency swap to help Sri Lanka address the current balance of payment (BoP) issues, and iv) facilitating Indian investments in different sectors in Sri Lanka that would contribute to the growth and expand employment. This will build on recent trends in that respect.
It was agreed that modalities to realise these objectives would be finalised early within a mutually-agreed timeline. Minister Rajapaksa and Ministers Sitharaman and Jaishankar agreed to open direct lines of communication and to be in direct and regular contact with each other in order to coordinate the above initiative.
Rajapaksa expressed gratitude to India for the support extended to Sri Lanka over the years in many spheres.
In his meetings with the Indian dignitaries, Minister Rajapaksa also appreciated the hospitality extended to him and his delegation and the arrangements made throughout the visit.
The Finance Minister’s discussions with his Indian counterpart and the External Affairs Minister focused on a whole gamut of issues of mutual importance pertaining to the bilateral relationship with particular attention on the economic cooperation aspect. Both countries expressed satisfaction over the evolving trajectory of the bilateral relationship.
During the discussions, they also identified ways and means through which the existing bilateral economic relationship between the two countries could be further broadened and deepened.