It was agreed upon to implement a joint programme between Sri Lanka and India during a meeting held between President Ranil Wickremesinghe and India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar yesterday. President Ranil Wickremesinghe warmly welcomed the Indian External Affairs Minister at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday morning (20) where the duo engaged in cordial discussions.
Prior to the official meeting, President Wickremesinghe hosted the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Dr.Jaishankar for breakfast and tea at his official residence at Paget Road, Colombo.
In addition, in the official meeting held between the President and Indian Foreign Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar, many political, economic and social issues as well as investment matters between the two countries were discussed at length.
During this discussion, special attention was paid to the debt-restructuring programme in Sri Lanka which had received a positive response from the Indian government.
The Indian External Affairs Minister recalled that in 1991, during the tenure of former Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, India had to face an economic crisis similar to what Sri Lanka is currently facing. He added that the Indian Government overcame the crisis by pledging the government’s gold reserves.
Therefore, Dr.Jaishankar said that India has a good understanding of the situation Sri Lanka is currently facing and said that the Indian government will provide all possible support to solve the current economic problems faced by Sri Lanka.
The bilateral agreement related to raising the limit of the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) implemented in Sri Lanka with the support of the Government of India was also signed during the meeting.
The Secretary to the Ministry of `Finance, Mahinda Siriwardena, signed the agreement on behalf of Sri Lanka and the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay signed on behalf of India.
This agreement guides many community development projects in Sri Lanka with the supportof the Government of India.
This agreement related to community development projects in Sri Lanka was signed in May 2005. Its individual project limit was Rs.300 million, which will now be doubled to Rs. 600 million by the agreement signed yesterday.
Meanwhile, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka in 2017, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of an Academy for Kandyan dancing as a gift given to Sri Lanka by the Indian Government and its people. The Indian Foreign Minister also virtually declared open the academy, which was built in close proximity to the historical Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
The President and the Indian External Affairs Minister, also virtually handed over of 300 completed houses in Galle, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya – (100 houses each) under the housing project implemented in Sri Lanka with the support of the Indian Government.
In this project of 60,000 houses, 50,000 houses have already been completed. The third phase of the project of 400 houses for the people of the upcountry estate sector is currently underway and over 3,300 houses built under it have already been completed and are ready to be handed over to the beneficiaries.
The handing over of houses built in Anuradhapura and Badulla districts under the Model Village Housing Programme implemented with the support of the Government of India for low-income families in Sri Lanka, was also symbolically handed over to the beneficiaries.
Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Presidential Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayake, President’s Secretary Saman Ekanayake and other officials and a special Indian delegation attended the discussion.