By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): India has done more for Sri Lanka than the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Union Minister for External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar said.
The Modi Government, he underlined, is working on developing an “extended neighbourhood” that involves islands in the Indian Ocean, Gulf countries and nations in South-East Asia.
India has extended a $1bn credit line for Sri Lanka by one year, a Sri Lankan official says, giving the crisis-hit island nation a backup infusion of dollars for essential imports.
The credit line, part of about $4bn in emergency assistance extended by India during the peak of Sri Lanka’s financial crisis early last year, was scheduled to end in March. “
After the negotiations, the credit line was extended until March 2024, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Treasury Secretary Priyantha Rathnayake disclosed adiing that there is about $350m left of the credit line that can be utilized as needed.
Sri Lanka owes $7.1bn to bilateral creditors, government data show, with $3bn owed to China, followed by $2.4bn to the Paris Club and $1.6bn to India.
The government also needs to renegotiate more than $12bn of debt in eurobonds with overseas private creditors, and $2.7bn on other commercial loans.
What we have done for Sri Lanka is bigger than what the IMF has done for Sri Lanka. If any of you have visited Sri Lanka recently, then you will note the popular perception that has accrued from this action,” he added.
“What we are also trying to do today is for a bigger, influential and ambitious India. We are trying to expand what should be our neighbourhood. We look at what this extended neighbourhood should be.
It could be islands in the Indian Ocean, nations in South-East Asia and Central Asia, or Gulf countries. The relationship with the UAE and Saudi Arabia has undergone an enormous transformation.
From what was a traditionally much more constricted view of our neighbourhood, we have undertaken something much more ambitious,” said Jaishankar during a talk on “Modi’s India: A Rising Power” at Anant National University in the city.
Pointing out how the world has become more uncertain, volatile and turbulent, Jaishankar underlined it was time to use the “complex global landscape” for the betterment and growth of India.
The pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict has helped to build “resilient and reliable supply chains”, “domestic capacities” and “trusted relationships,” he highlighted.
“The linkages and perception today of India in the neighbourhood has changed. Nothing illustrated that more dramatically than what happened to Sri Lanka.
Last year, when they went through a very deep economic crisis, we stepped forward in a way we ourselves have never done before.
If any of you have visited Sri Lanka recently, then you will note the popular perception that has accrued from this action,” he added.