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Troubled Lanka receives economic assistance amounting to USD 2.5 bn from India this year

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India has provided economic assistance to Sri Lanka amounting to USD 2.5 bn, so far this year, according to the Indian High Commission in Colombo. The announcement was made in the wake of External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. S. Jaishankar’s talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Foreign Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris and others on the first day of discussions, during his visit to Colombo on Monday (28).

Dr. Jaishankar is accompanied by a five-member official delegation from the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi for the bilateral and BIMSTEC engagements.

The Indian HC stated: “The EAM called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and conveyed personal greetings from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The President of Sri Lanka thanked the Government of India (GOI) for economic assistance amounting to around USD 2.5 billion, extended to Sri Lanka in 2022. Dr. S. Jaishankar assured India’s continued support in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery process. The discussions also covered the recent Government-TNA talks, defence and energy cooperation, and thefishermen’s issues. It was agreed to deepen economic and commercial linkages with special emphasis on Indian investments.

The EAM joined Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at a special event held at the Temple Trees to virtually inaugurate the Jaffna Cultural Centre. They watched a cultural performance at the Centre – a Bharatnatyam rendition, a prayer dedicated to the peoples of India and Sri Lanka and their eternal friendship. They also had a virtual tour of the Artificial Limb Fitment Camp in Jaffna which is supported by GOI. In addition, they also witnessed signing of MoU on implementation of grant assistance from India to promote Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka. Further, there was an exchange of notes on the amendment to Article IX of the MoU on construction of Jaffna Cultural Centre.

The EAM met the Finance Minister. Basil Rajapaksa in the morning, who stressed the significance of deeper economic engagement between the two neighbours at a time when the impact of COVID-19 is still being strongly felt. EAM reiterated that India’s partnership with Sri Lanka was rooted in the ‘Neighbourhood First’ approach and S.A.G.A.R (Security And Growth for All in the Region) doctrine. India has stood by Sri Lanka in the hour of its need.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L Peiris held talks with EAM in the evening. They covered the entire gamut of bilateral engagement. Attesting to the comprehensive nature of bilateral ties, they also witnessed the signing of bilateral documents in diverse areas:

i) MOU on implementation of Sri Lanka Unique Digital Identity (SL-UDI) programme with GOI’s grant assistance;

ii) MOU for providing Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre;

iii) MOU on implementation of Hybrid Power Projects in three Islands off Jaffna;

iv) MOU on cooperation in development of Fisheries Harbours in Sri Lanka;

v) MOU for the establishment of Modern Computer Labs and smart boards with customized curriculum software in 200 schools in Galle District; &

vi) MOU between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute.

The EAM separately met Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Douglas Devananda. They discussed issues pertaining to fishermen and exchanged views on devolution.

The EAM’s other engagements included a visit to HCL Technologies, an LIOC petrol station, and discussions with leaders representing various Tamil political parties. It may be recalled that HCL Technologies has created more than 1,800 jobs locally. LIOC has been at the forefront of energy cooperation between the two countries since its incorporation as a Sri Lankan Company two decades back.

The Jaffna Cultural Center is a glowing example of India-Sri Lanka development partnership. It was conceived as a reconciliation project primarily aimed at expanding cultural infrastructure for people of Northern Province. This state-of-the-art facility, constructed with grant assistance from GOI, consists of multiple facilities such as a museum of two floors; an advanced theatre style auditorium for more than 600 people; an 11-storeyed learning tower; a public square which could also act as an amphitheater; etc.”



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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