Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held fruitful talks on a wide range of bilateral issues, joint projects and India’s assistance to Sri Lanka.
When the Indian Minister called on him at Temple Trees yesterday (20), the Prime Minister thanked India for assuring the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that India would extend fullest cooperation for the proposed IMF package for Sri Lanka. The IMF wanted such assurances from creditors for providing a USD 2.9 billion bridge loan to Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister also thanked India for the US$ 4 billion loan readjustment when the economic crisis in Sri Lanka started last year and the continued assistance and support given as a most trusted and close friend.
“We are confident Sri Lanka will come out of this economic crisis faster and continue to prosper and we will support you in whatever way we can,” Minister Jaishankar assured the Prime Minister.
He added that India is hopeful that current efforts with the IMF will make a change in how debt is restructured, additional financing comes in and Sri Lanka is able to move to a path of more sustainable fiscal management.
Commenting on the proposed Power Grid link between India and Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Gunawardena urged Indian investments in the renewable energy sector.
“Sri Lanka has abundance of wind and sunshine and there is huge potential for such renewable energy projects,” Minister Jaishankar said.
Education Minister Susil Premajayantha thanked India for assisting in printing 19 million school textbooks for 4.2 million schoolchildren in Sri Lanka.
He also urged Minister Jaishankar to expand cooperation in the education sector for establishing close links with Indian Technology Institutes and universities in Sri Lanka.
Transport Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena sought Indian assistance under the Credit Line to improve public transport. Indian Minister said India would favourably consider the proposed joint venture under Public-Private Partnership for upgrading the Kelani Valley railway from Colombo to Awissawella, and assist the construction of electric buses in Sri Lanka under a joint venture.
Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, State Minister Tharaka Balasuriya, Parliamentarian Yadamini Gunawardena, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake and Additional Secretary Mahinda Gunaratne were present on the occasion.
The Indian delegation included High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, Joint Secretary Puneet Agrawal, Director Sandeep Kumar Bayyappu, Deputy Secretary Nidhi Choudhary, Deputy Secretary Raghoo Puri and Deputy High Commissioner Vinod Jacob.