Source : Asian News International (ANI)
|External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Thiruvananthapuram (Photo/ANI)|
Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday called the economic crisis in Sri Lanka is a “serious” matter and highlighted India’s help to the island nation. Addressing mediapersons here, Jaishankar said, “The Sri Lankan crisis is a serious matter. It is something which has been built over a period of time. Prime Minister Modi has a policy called ‘Neighbourhood First.’ We try and support our neighbours in a way which meets their requirements.”
The EAM said the Centre has pledged USD 3.8 billion to support Sri Lanka amid its economical crisis this year alone.
“We had given Sri Lanka a line of credit, which has kept essential commodities flowing to them for the past several months. We have also provided them a line of credit for the purchase of fuel. This year alone, we have pledged USD 3.8 billion in support to Sri Lanka,” stated Jaishankar.
He emphasised that managing finances is a bigger issue and India’s focus is on helping Sri Lanka.
“There is a bigger issue about how you manage your finances…About how you have a prudent fiscal policy. There are issues pertaining to the management of the economy. Our focus is on helping them,” added Jaishankar.
India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek prosperity and progress through democratic means and constitutional framework and continue to follow the development in the island country, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
This comes after protesters stormed into President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official home and later broke into Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence and set it on fire on Saturday.
Both President Rajapaksa and PM Wickremesinghe have announced to step down from their posts amid the ongoing protests.
External Affairs Minister spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in a statement, said, “We continue to follow closely the recent developments in Sri Lanka. India stands with the people of Sri Lanka as they seek to realise their aspirations for prosperity and progress through democratic means and values, established institutions and constitutional framework.”
Responding to the situation in Sri Lanka, the MEA Spokesperson said that India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and our two countries share deep civilizational bonds. “We are aware of the many challenges that Sri Lanka and its people have been facing, and we have stood with the Sri Lankan people as they have tried to overcome this difficult period,” he said in a statement.
In pursuance of the central place that Sri Lanka occupies in our Neighbourhood First policy, India has extended this year unprecedented support of over USD 3.8 billion for ameliorating the serious economic situation in Sri Lanka.
The worsening economic situation in the country has led to increasing tensions and over the last few weeks, there were reports of several confrontations between individuals and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations where thousands of desperate members of the public have queued for hours and sometimes days. Police have used tear gas and water cannons at times in a disproportionate manner. On occasions, armed forces have also fired live ammunition.
Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development and severely undermining the country’s ability to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice.
Reduced domestic agricultural production, a lack of foreign exchange reserves, and local currency depreciation have fuelled the shortages. The economic crisis will push families into hunger and poverty – some for the first time – adding to the half a million people who the World Bank estimates have fallen below the poverty line because of the pandemic.