Sri Lanka Current – by Dr Harold Gunatillake
India is emerging as one of the biggest aid providers to cash-strapped Sri Lanka.US$ 16 million worth of aid from Tamil Nadu will begin arriving in Colombo on May 22 Indian envoy in Lanka’s hands over SLR.2 billion worth of essentials sent by Tamil Nadu government
Litro Gas distribution to 416 areas Uninterrupted electricity supply soon.
Sri Lanka: Political stability restored, but food, law and order pose challenges
Uninterrupted electricity supply soon.
Aid from Tamil Nadu to the value of US $ 16 million arrived in Sri Lanka on May 22nd. The consignment, which consists of 9,000 MT of rice, 50 MT of milk powder and more than 25 MT of drugs and other medical supplies, was handed over by High Commissioner Gopal Baglay to the senior leadership of the Government of Sri Lanka
This commitment translates to more than SLR 5.5 billion. The assistance from the people of Tamil Nadu complements multi-pronged efforts undertaken by the Government of India by standing with their brethren in Sri Lanka. Several private and social organisations from India have sent assistance to Sri Lanka to meet various urgent requirements
Such an outpouring of support for Sri Lanka among familiar Indians is apart from the economic assistance by the Government of India, which has been around USD 3.5 billion since January this year. In addition, medicines, dry rations etc., have also been sent by the Government of India on a grant basis.
More humanitarian consignments and other forms of assistance from India shall follow. Multi-pronged endeavour by both the Government and the people of India underlines the importance attached to Sri Lanka and reflects their concerns for the well-being of its people.
Support extended to Sri Lanka ranges from economic assistance worth around USD 3.5 billion, supply of vaccines, testing kits, close to 1000 MT of liquid oxygen to combat COVID-19, and immediate response by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard to mitigate marine disasters etc.
Mahinda Rajapaksa sought investment from China to build the country’s infrastructure, which benefitted the country and himself. But China does not necessarily help fix the nation’s economic problems.
India has never been a significant lender to Sri Lanka, unlike China which by the end of 2019 owned a little over 10% of Sri Lanka’s outstanding foreign debt stock. In early 2021, with the economic crisis looming, the Sri Lankan government had also obtained a ten bn yuan ($148m; £119m) currency swap facility from China to tackle its foreign exchange shortage.
But now, India is slowly emerging as one of the biggest aid providers to Sri Lanka.
“AS far as China is concerned, it doesn’t provide any quick return or indeed, any return to the country and its people, and so in that respect, it is seen to be a situation of buying influence,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the head of the Colombo-based public policy organisation the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
He further said, “Irrespective of whichever political party is in power, China is here to stay because of the size of the investments that it has made.”
Sri Lanka’s top diplomat in Beijing, Palitha Kohona, said on Friday via WeChat that China’s firm commitment to assistance will contribute significantly as Sri Lanka readies itself to deal with an unprecedented challenge, including approaching the IMF. Kohona said he was very confident that China would come through on $2.5 billion in financial support. The diplomat said he’d receive
India has come to our rescue at this moment. It is continuing to help us recover from this crisis by opening a credit line that has benefitted the country immensely. While the World Bank has agreed to lend it $600m, India has committed $1.9bn and may lend an additional $1.5bn for imports.
Delhi has also sent 65,000 tonnes of fertiliser and 400,000 tonnes of fuel, with more fuel shipments expected later in May. It has committed to sending more medical supplies too. In return, India has clinched an agreement which allows the Indian Oil Corporation access to the British-built Trincomalee oil tank farm.
India also aims to develop a 100MW power plant near Trincomalee.
Litro Gas distribution plan
Litro Gas cylinders will be distributed to 416 areas- to the names of selected dealers in the various cities and towns in the country, according to the COPE Committee. COPE stands for Committee on Public enterprise
The Committee on Public Enterprises has instructed Litro Gas to distribute 60% of its LP gas cylinders to highly populated areas like Colombo and Gampaha and districts with limited alternative energy sources.
Accordingly, it was decided that 60% of the gas cylinders distributed daily would be distributed to Colombo and Gampaha districts. The company announced when it appeared before the COPE yesterday to comment on the gas
Prof. Charitha Herath, Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), has instructed that these distributions be made within one week. Gas is distributed through 42 key agents and other sub-agents island-wide, Vijitha Herath, Chairman, Litro, said.
He said that due to the inclement weather, it was difficult to connect the buoy at Muthurajawela, and the ship had to be brought to the Port of Colombo to unload gas. It has also been revealed that the gas supply could be maintained in the next three months through the 120 million US Dollars received from the Indian credit facility. It was also
recommended to publish the correct information on gas distribution on the website and in a mobile application and provide information through 24-hour hotline numbers.
The Pettah market is busy amidst the economic crisis in Colombo.
Pettah Market is one of Sri Lanka’s most important and busiest commodity hubs in Colombo, where one can find various goods. Due to the economic crisis, business in Pettah Market is not as prosperous as before. However, the wholesale food market, which is closely related to the lives of locals, is still bustling.
Here are some scenes from Pettah as captured by Xinhua photographer Tang Lu:
Uninterrupted electricity supply soon: Minister reveals plan
Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekara says that the government has decided to supply fuel for electricity generation as a priority to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in the country.
He said that with the Norachcholai power plant expected to be back in operation by tomorrow after the repair work and the hydropower generation, the government is contemplating providing uninterrupted power supply to the whole country by early next week. “Initial plan was to give uninterrupted electricity by 1st of June, but now we are looking into whether we can start it from early next week”, Minister said. The minister said that he is expecting people not to hoard fuel for private power generators with this decision. Therefore, more energy should be available for the general public for transportation needs.
Kanchana Wijesekara went on to say that the government expects to put an end to the power crisis on priority, but the fuel crisis does not have a short term solution. He also said the government plans to resume the Sapugaskanda oil refinery operations. The minister expressed these views while addressing the media at a press briefing held at the
The European Union said that it has been monitoring the situation and recent developments in Sri Lanka, stating: “We stress the extreme emergency of the situation, which require the authorities to start in-depth discussions with the International Monetary Fund on the reforms needed to bring the Sri Lankan economy back to a sustainable path”. The delegation of the EU, together with the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States, issued a joint
statement on 8 April Pope Francis appealed for the Sri Lankan authorities to “listen to the aspirations of the people” and said: “I offer a particular thought to the people of Sri Lanka, in particular to the young, who in recent times have made their cry heard in the face of the country’s social and economic challenges and problems.
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