COLOMBO: Thursday (June 23), India’s top diplomat met with Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister to express India’s preparedness to give more financial assistance to its cash-strapped neighbor beyond the $4 billion in loans, swaps, and help previously granted.
In the greatest economic crisis in seven decades, Sri Lanka is unable to import basics like food, gasoline, and medication because of a severe foreign exchange shortage.
The island country off the point of southeast India needs nearly US$5 billion in the next six months to cover basic essentials for its 22 million residents, who have been dealing with lengthy lineups, growing shortages and power interruptions.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, joined by finance ministry officials, had meetings with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the commercial city Colombo, authorities said.
Underlined India remains ready to support Sri Lanka in speedy economic recovery by boosting investments, connectivity and building economic linkages, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.
The Indian team conducted a separate meeting with Wickremesinghe, the Central Bank governor and finance ministry officials, an official from the prime minister’s office said.
The delegation will also conduct discussions with top authorities on the economic situation in the nation and the short-term and long-term support requirements, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
India has been the primary provider of foreign aid to Sri Lanka this year, giving more than US$4 billion, Wickremesinghe told parliament last week.
The neighbours are also in negotiations for extra support including a US$500 million credit line for gasoline and help with importing fertilizer and rice as Sri Lanka strives to fend off a food catastrophe, sources said.
Sri Lanka aims to attend a donor meeting with China, India and Japan, Wickremesinghe said, as it continues discussions with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package of roughly US$3 billion.