ECONOMYNEXT – A high-level Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra met Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe for discussions kn promoting bilateral investment in the fields of infrastructure, connectivity, renewable energy and deepening economic linkages, the Indian High Commission said.

Sri Lanka has sought more loans from its neighbour to manage the island nation’s ongoing economic crisis which has led to the shortage of essentials like fuel, medicines, and cooking gas amid lengthy power cuts due to lack of US dollars.

The South Asian country already declared sovereign debt default on April 12.

The Indian delegation also included Shri Ajay Seth, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, V Anantha Nageswaran, Chief Economic Advisor and Kartik Pande, Joint Secretary, Indian Ocean Region at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

“Both sides had a productive exchange of views on the current economic situation in Sri Lanka as well as India’s ongoing support,” the Indian High Commission said referring to the delegation’s meeting with the president.

“In the meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremansinghe, the two sides had an in-depth discussion on the Sri Lankan economy and efforts undertaken by the government of Sri Lanka towards achieving economic recovery.

“In this context, both sides highlighted the importance of promoting India-Sri Lanka investment partnership including in the fields of infrastructure, connectivity, renewable energy and deepening economic linkages between the two countries.”

Many Sri Lankans have welcomed Indian support cautiously due to past experiences.

Political analysts told EconomyNext the Indian rush for help has come at a time India and the West led by the United States are concerned about China’s strong presence in Sri Lanka.

China has become the top bilateral commercial lender to the island nation since the end of a 26-year war in 2009.

India has raised concerns over Chinese activity in Sri Lanka claiming that it could compromise the Indian Ocean’s security.

Sri Lanka had to cancel a renewable energy project given to a Chinese company in the northern islands due to Indian pressure citing security concerns, government officials have said.

A majority of Sri Lankans are still vary of Indian assistance because of its role in creating, backing and training the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel group who fought for a separate state in Sri Lanka’s North and East for nearly 30 years.

However, later, India along with many other international partners helped Sri Lanka to wipe out the LTTE, which had killed Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. (Colombo/Jun23/2022)