Sri Lankan Finance Minister to visit India for bilateral talks


PTI | Colombo | Updated: 22-11-2021 15:44 IST | Created: 22-11-2021 15:44 IST
Sri Lankan Finance Minister to visit India for bilateral talks
  • Country:
  • Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa will visit India to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, foreign minister G L Peiris said here on Monday.

His will visit India in the next few days, Peiris told reporters, adding that the schedule is being worked out jointly with the Indian High Commission here.

Finance Minister Rajapaksa’s visit assumes significance in the backdrop of negotiations sought by Colombo for an Indian credit line to pay for the island’s fuel purchases.

Last week, Sri Lanka temporarily shut down its only oil refinery for 50 days following the non-availability of crude oil supplies due to the ongoing severe foreign exchange crisis in the country.

Foreign Minister Peiris, however, said that Rajapaksa would not ask for Indian loans but to enhance Indian investment.

“We have strong relations with India, not just focused on one area,” he said, adding that Rajapaksa would call on Prime Minister Modi.

India has been generous with Sri Lanka’s calls for assistance whenever the need arose in the past, Peiris said.

Finance Minister Rajapaksa is fresh from presenting his maiden budget - the 2022 budget aimed at raising taxes while anticipating more state revenue from jacked up cigarette and liquor retail prices.

The Opposition has blamed him for his failure to offer solutions to the foreign reserves problem faced by the country’s economy with public being made to suffer scarcities of essentials.

Lanka's oil bill has jumped 41.5 per cent to USD 2 billion in the first seven months of this year, compared to last year. The country is facing a severe foreign exchange crisis after the pandemic hit the nation's earnings from tourism and remittances, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said in September.

The country's Gross Domestic Product has contracted by a record 3.6 per cent in 2020 and its foreign exchange reserves plunged by over a half in one year through July to just USD 2.8 billion. This has led to a 9 per cent depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee against the US dollar over the past one year, making imports more expensive.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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