Sri Lankan FM to visit India to formalize economic relief package

AgenciesUpdated: Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 09:28 PM IST
article-image
In January, India announced a $900 million loans to Sri Lanka to build up its depleted foreign reserves and for food imports, amid a shortage of almost all essential commodities in the country./ Representative image | PTI

Sri Lanka's Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa will visit India in a fortnight to formalize India's economic relief package for the island nation facing a serious forex crisis, Foreign Minister G L Peiris said on Tuesday.

This will be Rajapaksa's second visit to New Delhi in two months.

In January, India announced a $900 million loans to Sri Lanka to build up its depleted foreign reserves and for food imports, amid a shortage of almost all essential commodities in the country.

Peiris told reporters here that Rajapaksa's visit to India in December "brought in many fruitful outcomes as we received $2.4 billion assistance from India as a result".

Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his visit to New Delhi in December, briefed the Indian side on the economic situation in Sri Lanka and his government's approach in addressing the challenges.

During his visit, discussions took place on deepening cooperation in areas of food and health security, energy security, the balance of payment issues and Indian investments in Sri Lanka among others.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also held a virtual meeting with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on January 15 and discussed projects and investment plans by India that would strengthen the economy of the island nation.

Foreign Minister Peiris said that India's intervention in Sri Lanka's economic woes was much positive and significant.

"The close integration of our economy with India would be very beneficial, one-third of our tourist arrivals are from India," the minister said.

Rajapaksa's next visit would be important for Sri Lanka to clinch the $1 billion credit line meant for importing food and medicine, the foreign minister said.

However, no schedule was announced for his visit.

India's economic relief package for Sri Lanka, announced in January, provided a lifeline to the island nation which was facing food shortages as the foreign reserves dropped to unprecedented levels, affecting the power supply and availability of fuel.

Earlier this month, an agreement to grant Sri Lanka a credit line of $500 million for fuel purchases was sealed which was part of the immediate economic relief package.

Later, the Cabinet approved the move to purchase 40,000 metric tonnes of diesel and petrol each from the Indian Oil Corporation which the officials said was outside of this $500 million credit line.

The Lanka IOC, the Sri Lankan subsidiary of India's oil major Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), has been in operation in Sri Lanka since 2002.

India's economic assistance package in January included a currency swap of $400 million to improve the depleted foreign reserves, deferred Asian Currency Union settlement of $515 million by $2 million along with another Indian credit line of $1.5 billion to ease shortages of essentials with imports from India.

The state fuel entity Ceylon Petroleum Corporation said the 40,000 metric tonnes of diesel purchased from the Indian Oil Company was due. The IOC has allowed 60 days credit for the purchase, officials said.

The state energy entity Ceylon Electricity Board said a formal decision on power cuts extending through this month to April would be announced on Tuesday.

The hydroelectric capacity had halved due to a drop in the water levels in the reservoirs.

(With inputs from PTI)

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

'Surprised he survived': Salman Rushdie's attacker

'Surprised he survived': Salman Rushdie's attacker

Mumbai: Ordering food online? BMC wants to ban deliveries in plastic boxes

Mumbai: Ordering food online? BMC wants to ban deliveries in plastic boxes

Lakhimpur Kheri: Farmers' begin 3 day protest demanding justice for victims of violence

Lakhimpur Kheri: Farmers' begin 3 day protest demanding justice for victims of violence

Mumbai updates: Food deliveries in plastic boxes to be banned soon

Mumbai updates: Food deliveries in plastic boxes to be banned soon

J&K: NIA raids house of accused in the case related to arms, ammunition dropped by Pakistani drones

J&K: NIA raids house of accused in the case related to arms, ammunition dropped by Pakistani drones
epaper
Do you wish to receive daily Epaper on your WhatsApp for FREE?
NO
Yes