JICA Loan Operations in Sri Lanka put on hold
Japan has halted 12 projects under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Sri Lanka until the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides a roadmap to the crisis-hit island, a top minister said.
“Twelve projects funded by Japan under JICA will be suspended until the IMF establishes a roadmap on Sri Lanka’s debts and its sustainability because the country has been declared bankrupt,” Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva told parliament on Wednesday August 10.
Sri Lanka’s relations with Japan was tested in the last two years after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was closer to China scrapped a JICA-funded light railway transit (LRT) project claiming it was too expensive and unilaterally cancelled a 500 million US dollars trilateral deal with India and Japan to develop the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port.
The LRT project was a 1.5 billion US dollar soft-loan project that would have solved some of the traffic issues in the Malabe corridor.
Sri Lanka has recently been trying to rebuild relations with Japan who previously poured many millions of dollars in funds to the country.
Since 1965, the Government has obtained Japanese Official Development Assistance amounting USD 8,829 million for 120 development projects and Japanese Assistance is provided through various schemes such as Yen loans packages, Project Grant Aid, Non-Project Grant Aid, Feasibility Studies and Technical Cooperation programmes.
Currently, 14 projects with approx. total value of USD 2500 million are being implemented under the JICA loan assistance mainly under the sector of Power, Water Supply and Drainage, Ports, Transport, Health, Telecommunication, and Rural Development etc.
Explaining the current progress of the development projects, a senior official said that the government expects the assistance of JICA in the areas of agriculture, skills development, health, and irrigation for the coming year.
Inspite of Sri Lanka’s economic and political issues, JICA, together with the Ministry of Health, launched a technical cooperation project with a budget of Rs.300 Million to strengthen capacities in the preparedness and development for diagnostics and treatment services to combat COVID-19, and the equipment and online training opportunities have been provided to the targeted hospitals.
In the Project, the essential equipment, including ventilator, blood gas analyzer, real time PCR machine, automated RNA/DNA extractor, and ultra-low temperature freezer, are distributed to the base hospitals in Teldeniya, Warakapola, Walikanda, Pimbura, Nawalapitiya, Hingurakgoda, Karawanella, and Avissavella (for mainly treatment) and District General Hospital Hambantota (for particularly PCR tests).
One of the specific objectives of this project is to improve quality of medical services relating to COVID-19 in the targeted hospitals by building up their operational management capacities.
The Project expects that the targeted hospitals appropriately test, diagnose, treat, and observe infected patients and those suspected of being infected, and perform effective and efficient operation management in the event of the pandemic.