Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for India’s continued support to the island nation amidst the prevailing economic crisis there.
Taking to the micro-blogging site, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister said, “I had a conversation with India’s Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman today. I expressed our country’s appreciation for the support India has extended during this difficult period. I look forward to further strengthening ties between our nations.” In a series of tweets, PM Wickremesinghe also expressed his gratefulness to India and Japan over the move to set up a foreign aid consortium Meanwhile, Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda on Friday met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and apprised the latter of the current economic situation in the country. During the discussion that followed, on the ongoing economic cooperation between the two nations, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner put forward a request that Sri Lanka would require bridging finance until the economic adjustment programme with the IMF could be negotiated and finalized. “In this context, the Minister and the High Commissioner explored the possibility of increasing and restructuring the assistance provided by India in the form of credits for essential commodities and fuel as well as balance of payment support,” the Embassy added. During the discussion, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner also applauded India’s dedicated support (in the form of credits for essential commodities and fuel) to Sri Lanka in the time of their crisis. Crisis in Sri Lanka The crisis in Sri Lanka is perhaps not sudden, but immediate, a culmination of circumstances and government mismanagement. The Sri Lankan government over the last decade borrowed vast sums of money from foreign lenders to fund public services, which has landed the nation in a debt trap when hit by disasters, both natural, such as heavy monsoons, and man-made, including a government ban on chemical fertilizers that crippled farmers’ harvests. In addition to this, a severe shortage of foreign currency has left the country unable to pay for essential imports. The disastrous circumstances resulted in acute food, gasoline, and medical shortages, while the country witnessed record inflation, which reached nearly 30% in April. India to the Rescue Standing on its commitment to extend all possible support to the island nation in their time of distress, India has extended this year alone support worth over US $3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka. Helping Colombo in mitigating the shortage of essential items, India has also sent food and other essential items to Sri Lanka. India has recently handed over a humanitarian aid comprising rice, milk powder and medicines worth more than SLR 2 billion to Sri Lanka. To help ease the fuel-crisis in the country, recently India also delivered close to 40,000 MT of diesel to Sri Lanka. In addition, the people of India have also provided assistance with essential medical supplies comprising food and medical equipment to Sri Lanka. More recently, New Delhi has also assured Colombo that it will supply 65,000 metric tons of urea to boost its crippling agriculture sector. Experts asserted Sri Lanka’s disastrous decision to shift from chemical to organic farming as the root cause of the agriculture crisis there.