Sri Lankan PM Gunawardena Seeks Stronger Trade And Investment Ties With India In Meeting With Indian CEOs

The Indian government’s assistance to Sri Lanka has reached almost USD 4 billion since January this year in the form of credit lines and currency swaps.

Sri Lankan PM Gunawardena's meeting with Indian CEO Forum in Colombo

In a meeting with top Indian business executives under the aegis of the Indian CEO Forum (ICF) in Colombo, Sr Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena urged the need for further growth in bilateral trade and increased Indian investments to boost technology upgradation in diverse range of sectors including automobile, banking, cement, FMCG, fuel, glass, hospitality, infrastructure, logistics, packaging, paint, and pharmaceuticals, to aid the country’s recovery from its most devastating economic crisis in recent history.

He thanked the Indian companies for their significant input and support to Sri Lanka’s economy by way of bringing substantial investments into the cash-strapped country, export earnings, employment generation, and contribution of treasury through direct and indirect taxes, the PM office said in a statement.

Shine Lanka: An Indian Initiative

Referring to the Prime Minister's proposal to venture into new areas, ICF President T S Prakash said that the Forum has launched ’Shine Lanka’ platform to promote trade and investments as well as tourism, which has a huge potential, the statement added.
Prime Minister Gunawardena shared with them the steps taken by the Lankan government to solve the unprecedented economic crisis faced by the country.

India’s $4 billion Assistance to Colombo

Sri Lanka has seen months of mass unrest over the worst economic crisis, with the government declaring bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt. The worst economic crisis since 1948 led to severe shortages of fuel and other essentials in the country.
The Indian government's assistance to Sri Lanka has reached almost USD 4 billion since January this year, extended in the form of lines of credit and currency swap facilities. The International Monetary Fund has also approved a USD 2.9 billion recovery package for the country.
Sri Lanka needs about USD 5 billion in the next six months to cover basic necessities for its 22 million people, who have been struggling with long queues, worsening shortages and power cuts.

Investors demand relaxation of stringent regulations

The Indian CEOs expressed appreciation over the initial successes made by Sri Lanka in its plans to recover from the economic crisis and emphasised the need to sustain the efforts. They also called for relaxation of some outdated regulations to enhance growth of trade and attract investments.
To this end, Prakash highlighted that the Indian companies make a valuable contribution to the economy by providing gainful employment to thousands, providing best-in-class management, technical skills, and contributing substantiality to Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange earnings despite the current economic challenges.
He added that the objective of the ICF is to promote economic growth in Sri Lanka through Indian investment, safeguard and strengthen existing economic co-operation, foster new economic ties between India and Sri Lanka, and provide an open forum for business leaders of Indian origin employed with Indian multi-nationals and Sri Lankan business organisations in Sri Lanka, according to the statement.

The ICF delegation included past president – Umesh Gautam, (Lanka Ashok Leyland PLC)., Vice President, Kishore Reddy, (Platinum Realty), Manoj Gupta, (Lanka IOC), Ashish Chandra, (Bharti Airtel), Harikrishnan Sundaram (Colombo West International Terminal), Girish Manjeswar (UltraTech Cement) and Anurag Sharma, (Reckitt).

(With inputs from PTI)