(Indian Express): As Sri Lanka battles to revive its Covid-battered economy, New Delhi and Colombo have agreed on a four-pronged cooperation package comprising urgent food and health security, energy security, currency swap and Indian investments.
The short- to medium-term plan was decided during Sri Lanka Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to India this week. He met his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, among others.
The brother of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa is considered a political strategist. He was a confidante of Mahinda Rajapaksa when he was President.
According to a statement issued by the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi, the two sides discussed “four pillars” for short- and medium-term cooperation.
These are: urgent food and health security package that would envisage an extension of a line of credit to cover the import of food, medicines and other essential items from India to Sri Lanka; energy security package that would include a line of credit to cover the import of fuel from India, and early modernisation of the Trincomalee Tank Farm; offer of a currency swap to help Sri Lanka address its balance of payment issues; facilitation of Indian investments in different sectors that would contribute to growth and expand employment
The Sri Lanka Finance Minister’s discussions with his Indian counterpart and the External Affairs Minister focused on issues of mutual importance pertaining to the bilateral relationship. “Both sides expressed satisfaction over the evolving trajectory of the bilateral relationship. During the discussions, they identified ways and means through which the existing bilateral economic relationship between the two countries could be further broadened and deepened.” the statement said.
Basil Rajapaksa briefed the Indian side of the economic situation in Sri Lanka and his government’s approach to addressing post-Covid challenges. The Indian ministers expressed solidarity and reiterated that the country has always stood by Sri Lanka.
According to the statement it was agreed that modalities to implement these objectives would be finalised within a mutually agreed timeline.
The ministers also agreed to open direct lines of communication to coordinate the initiatives.