India to extend Sri Lanka’s 1 bn dollar credit line by a year

An agreement was signed between the SBI and the Sri Lankan government for USD 1 billion credit facility in March last year. India extended the credit line to Sri Lanka at the height of the country's economic crisis.

Colombo: India on Tuesday extended its under-utilised USD 1 billion credit line to Sri Lanka for another year to help the island nation hit hard by an unprecedented economic crisis procure much-needed food, medicine and other essential items.

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An agreement was signed between the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Sri Lankan government for USD 1 billion credit facility in March last year. India extended the credit line to Sri Lanka at the height of the country’s economic crisis.

“India reaffirms its commitment to the people of Sri Lanka. The Amendment Agreement signed in presence of Hon.Minister @ShehanSema today will enable Sri Lanka to use the USD 1 billion Indian credit facility for the procurement of medicine, food, and other essentials for one more year,” the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted.

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“Beyond the original duration, that is, till March 2024. The facility was extended by India through @TheOfficialSBI in response to a specific request from GOSL and forms a part of the multi-pronged assistance of USD 4 billion provided by India last year,” it said.

Since last year, the credit facility has been used for urgent procurement of fuel, medicine, food items and industrial raw materials, as per the requirements and priorities of Sri Lanka.

“The signing of the agreement to extend the US$ 1000 million assistance scheme for the import of essential materials for a further period of one year was done today. The officials of the State Bank of India participated the event virtually,” State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe tweeted.

“The initial agreement was signed in 2022 March & out of the 1000 million US dollars allocated materials were imported for $ 576.75 mil. The agreement is extended for the remaining $ 423.25 mil. We will prioritize the import of essential medicines till March 2024,” he said.

India extended multi-pronged assistance of about USD 4 billion to Sri Lanka last year, through multiple credit lines and currency support, in line with India’s Neighbourhood First’ policy.

India’s continued support to Sri Lanka is a testament to “our abiding commitment to stand with the government and the people of Sri Lanka towards early economic stabilisation and recovery,” the Indian High Commission said.

Sri Lanka was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves, sparking political turmoil in the country which led to the ouster of the all-powerful Rajapaksa family.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka announced on Tuesday that it has commenced the preliminary work to resume the abandoned Japan-funded Light Rail Transit (LRT) project.

The cabinet approved President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal to resume the project. Wickremesinghe visited Japan last week.

“Due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet spokesman and minister Bandula Gunawardena told reporters.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the USD 1.5 billion LRT project and the Colombo Port’s East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while also showing interest in the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

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Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India.
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