India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay has said that rice from India will arrive in the country soon under the $1 billion line of credit.
The line of credit was signed during former Sri Lankan Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s visit to India last month. The agreement was signed in Delhi in the presence of the Indian foreign and finance minister.
Speaking exclusively to WION’s Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal, Baglay said, “Under the food the first consignment has is likely to arrive very soon, exports of rice from India. These things are providing relief to Sri Lankan people in the current situation.”
The country is going through an economic crisis which has now become a political crisis as well with the cabinet of the Rajapaksa govt handing over resignation.
The Indian envoy also assured the safety of Indian nationals, pointing out that the Indian mission is in touch with the authorities over the issue. According to unofficial statistics, it is estimated that around 14,000 Indian expatriates are living in Sri Lanka.
Sidhant Sibal: How has India helped Sri Lanka under the current economic crisis?
Gopal Baglay: In the past 3 months, we have from India extended support worth about $2.5 billion, 2 lines of credit–$500 million for fuel and $ 1 billion for food, medicine and essential supplies. Both lines of credit are in operation. Under the fuel 4 consignments of diesel, petrol and aviation petrol have come. Under the food the first consignment has is likely to arrive very soon, exports of rice from India. These things are providing relief to Sri Lankan people in the current situation. The Reserve bank of India has also extended currency swap of $400 million, and some other currency support they have provided to central bank of Sri Lanka.
Sidhant Sibal: What has been the situation of stranded Indian tourists, how has the mission reached out?
Gopal Baglay: This is a very important question because Indian tourists are the largest group of tourists coming into Sri Lanka. So their safety and security, safety and security our citizen abroad is one of the most important questions for high commissions and embassies abroad. So we have actually been reached, we have contacted by number of people who want to come to Sri Lanka or are in Sri Lanka. So far we have not come across any major or serious matter but what we have told people is if they have any problem, they can certainly contact us and the high commission will help them in the situation they are. Sri Lankan tourist authorities, we are also in touch with them, we are in touch with Sri Lankan govt, if there is any problem by our people, then with help of Sri Lankan authorities we will try and resolve it. So far, we have not come across any major difficulties.
Sidhant Sibal: Any assurances from the Sri Lankan side to the foreign nationals, to the Indian nationals about their safety?
Gopal Baglay: The Sri Lankan tourism authorities have reached out to the embassies and high commissions in Colombo and they have said that they will do everything possible to make the stay of tourists coming into Sri Lanka comfortable. As you know, Tourism is one of three main foreign exchange earns for Sri Lanka and its importance is obviously very clear.