Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka PM
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday informed the parliament that talks with India and China on debt restructuring are successful.
"We are continuing discussions in that regard and I am pleased to announce to this House that the discussions are currently successful," read Sri Lankan President Media Division press release.
Notably, Sri Lanka is awaiting the International Monetary Fund bailout to relieve the worst ever economic crisis the country is going through.
The announcement comes in the wake of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's visit to the island nation who will be visiting Maldives and Sri Lanka from January 18-20.
Regarding Sri Lanka's tour, the ministry stated that Jaishankar's visit will follow his earlier trips to the bankrupt country in January 2021 and March 2022. Sri Lanka is a close friend and neighbour, and India has stood with the people of Sri Lanka at all times.
"During the visit, EAM will call on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and also hold discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs MUM Ali Sabry on the entire gamut of close India-Sri Lanka partnership and steps to strengthen it in all spheres," the statement stated.
Wickremesinghe further invited the opposition to join hands through a new political system to provide relief to the people and free them from oppression.
Despite the difficult economic background in the country, the President emphasized that the government is working to provide relief to the people, adding that he will take steps to allocate Rs. 30-40 billion for medicines this year.
The President said that due to the prudent agricultural policies of the government, the country has seen a bountiful paddy harvest and the government has commenced a program to provide two million low-income families with 10 kilograms of rice per month over a period of two months, added the release.
Responding to allegations that the government is overspending on the Independence celebrations, the President pointed out that it is an investment for the future. In the 25 years leading up to the 100th anniversary of independence, several new institutions and laws will be introduced for the reform program needed by the country.
Wickremesinghe said he intended to allocate Rs 30-40 billion this year for medicines.
"The Health Ministry and the Treasury will somehow join hands and carry out these matters. It will take some time to order these medicines. Even we don't like to see shortcomings at our hospitals, nor to see people dying due to the lack of medicines. Therefore, we have taken steps to allocate the necessary funds for the provision of medicines," he said.
Regarding the shortage of food and fertilizers in the island nation, he said, "We expected that there would be a shortage of food this year as well. But somehow we provided the required fertilizer to the farmers. "
He also divulged a plan to provide 02 million low-income families with 10kg of rice per month during March and April.
"I would be happier if we could give them more. As we celebrate our 75th Independence, we will not allow our people to starve. We will invest the funds required to feed them," said the Lankan President.
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First Published: Jan 18 2023 | 7:34 AM IST