The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Milinda Moragoda, says the Indo-Sri Lankan bilateral relationship is too important to be measured with the island nation’s relationship with China.
Speaking at a press interaction at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia in New Delhi, Moragoda said,” We are neighbours, and we also share a similar culture, and we should not measure it with a third country like China. Defence and security issues are discussed with India and not with China.”
Moragoda said,” We are now moving from a transitional approach to a strategic relationship with India and the speciality is the trust between the two neighbours.”
“We have to get back to the growth path. Growth is the key aspect. For that, India becomes a key partner. India was our main partner last year in helping stabilisation of our economy with different instruments,” he said.
“For the revival of the economy too, India will be an important partner. We must diversify our sources of income when it comes to exports and foreign exchange earnings,” Moragoda said.
He said the Sri Lanka government’s focus now is to stabilise the economy. “Crisis is also an opportunity and our country’s President is trying to do that. We are thinking afresh,” he said.
He said his government is now focussing on reviving the crashed economy and is seeking massive investments in power generation. He even said that the capital put in by the Adani Group of India in Sri Lanka is ‘important’.
“We are now trying to stabilise the economy and we are in the process of restructuring our debt and hopefully by the end of the year, we can enter the international system with the help of the IMF (International Monetary Fund),” he said.
The envoy also suggested that the process to roll out India’s RuPay card in Sri Lanka is being taken forward.
He also said that India is a market for Sri Lankan tourism. “Though some incidents have created a problem for us, but we can definitely grow our tourism business. At the same time, we need to improve connectivity and pricing,” he added.
The Adani Group is engaged in some projects in Sri Lanka amounting to nearly $1 billion dollars. The Adani Group is building the West Container Terminal at the Colombo Port and has also got the approval to build two wind power plants in northern Sri Lanka.
“It gives us confidence that somebody is willing to invest like that,” said the High Commissioner. He said both sides will soon be signing power purchase agreements for the 500-MW wind power projects as negotiations are going on and the agreement is being finalised.
“We are hoping to sign an MoU with India soon on cable connection between the two countries for power. If we can get investment going off the northwest coast of Sri Lanka, we can hopefully look after our needs and look at future exports to India,” he said.
“Broadening our revenue lines is one of our key priorities and export of electricity could be one of the areas,” he said.
The IMF Executive Board had approved a 48-month Extended Fund Facility of about $3 billion to support the island nation’s reforms and economic policies, in March.
He said Sri Lanka is also considering creation of an oil pipeline from Sri Lanka to India.
The envoy also said it was time to think afresh on India’s long-standing demand of implementing the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution on the Tamil reconciliation issue.