Enhanced economic ties between India and Sri Lanka | Daily News

Enhanced economic ties between India and Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in no uncertain terms, has thanked India for the assistance given to provide the essential requirements of the people by lending a hand of friendship at this crucial juncture. The Prime Minister made it a point to appreciate the Indian gesture and goodwill as a true friend of India as he knows what India stands for as a regional superpower.

The contentment and cheerfulness were displayed appropriately by the Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay when he visited the new Prime Minister with a bouquet and greetings from India, the giant neighbour. The appointment of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was good news and well received by India, signaling they would back the new Prime Minister to achieve his main target of economic stability.

The Hindustan Times put it more aptly. The newspaper said “the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, met the island nation's new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Friday, a day after the latter's appointment to the post”.

Indo-Lanka relations

“High Commissioner called on PM @RW_UNP. Conveyed greetings and good wishes. Discussed continued India-Sri Lanka cooperation for economic recovery and stability in Sri Lanka through the democratic process towards the well-being of all the people of Sri Lanka,” the Colombo-based High Commission said on its Twitter handle, sharing images of the interaction between the two dignitaries.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his first comments after being sworn-in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday, said Indo-Lanka relations are going to be “much better” than those maintained by the previous Government. Wickremesinghe also said he has taken on the challenge of uplifting the economy and will fulfill it.

“I have taken on the challenge of uplifting the economy, and I must fulfill it,” media reports quoted Wickremesinghe as saying in Colombo. When asked about the India-Sri Lanka relations, he replied, “They will become much better.”

His statement comes even as India said it looks forward to working with the new Sri Lankan Government formed under the democratic processes and the commitment of the Indian Government to the people of the island nation will continue. “India's commitment to the people of Sri Lanka will continue,” the High Commission said in another tweet.

The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader was appointed as the Prime Minister by President Rajapaksa after they held closed-door discussions on Wednesday. It was consequent to President Rajapaksa persuading Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa to accept the Premiership, which he rejected after laying down certain conditions.

However, Premadasa softened his stance later, but by that time, Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa had already reached finality on the question of Premiership. In its first reaction to the situation in Sri Lanka after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as Prime Minister, India on Tuesday said it was “fully supportive” of democracy, stability and economic recovery of its neighbour Sri Lanka.

“India will always be guided by the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka expressed through democratic processes,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi.

Neighborhood First policy

“In keeping with our Neighborhood First policy, India has extended this year alone support worth over US$ 3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka for helping them overcome their current difficulties. In addition, the people of India have assisted in mitigating the shortages of essential items such as food and medicine,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a press release. In the meantime, it has now come to light that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will undertake a visit to India shortly as his first overseas trip after assuming duties as the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister may ask for further help from India to revive the economy during his inaugural visit and hope that assistance is readily forthcoming. Besides, the ambassadors representing other Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) countries also met with the Prime Minister. The European Union, China and Great Britain also welcomed the new Prime Minister.

One of the first moves of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was to moot an aid consortium to help Sri Lanka in its endeavour to achieve economic stability. India was generous in helping Sri Lanka in many ways. The latest was the Indian initiative to release 65,000 metric tons of Urea, for the next season to be distributed among the farmers.

High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in New Delhi Milinda Moragoda met with the Secretary of the Department of Fertilizers of India Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi on May 12 to discuss the supply of urea required for the current Yala cultivation season in Sri Lanka.

The meeting came in the wake of the decision of the Government of India to immediately supply 65,000 metric tons of urea to Sri Lanka, which is the total requirement for paddy in the current Yala cultivation season, under the existing US$ 1 billion Credit Line. The Government of India has waived the ban on the export of fertilizer and had decided to supply this quantity of Urea immediately to Sri Lanka at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, informed Government sources said.

High Commissioner Moragoda thanked Secretary Chaturvedi for his involvement in arranging necessary approvals and logistics to supply 65,000 metric tons of Urea to Sri Lanka in consultation with the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay.

Many at this end and the fertilizer secretariat said that it was a step forward in enhancing and strengthening people to people connectivity between India and Sri Lanka. In response, Chaturvedi said that his Department was always ready to support Sri Lanka. He said that guided by the ‘Neighborhood First’ policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Department made arrangements to ship the required quantity of Urea from the nearest port to Sri Lanka through a State Company coming under his purview.

High Commissioner Milinda Moragoda and the Secretary also discussed ways and means to ensure the continuous supply of chemical fertilizer from India to Sri Lanka under the existing Credit Line and beyond.

Deputy High Commissioner Niluka Kadurugamuwa, Minister Upul Pushpakumara and Minister Counsellor Gamini Sarath Godakanda accompanied the High Commissioner at the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Hindu newspaper has published a news item about an imminent attack by the LTTE in Sri Lanka, making many people wonder whether the LTTE has regrouped in yet another campaign against Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities had immediately inquired from India about the authenticity of the newspaper story. Indian authorities have said that investigations were underway, and information concerning the matter would be conveyed to Sri Lanka shortly.

The information reminded many people of the dispatches passed on by India on the Easter Sunday attack and the lethargy of the Sri Lankan leaders to take appropriate action. Sri Lankan authorities are thankful to India for the strategic interest they have taken to intensify their security alerts on the region, which would also help Sri Lanka immensely.

Add new comment