Hard infrastructure and connectivity projects identified by India in Sri Lanka, including roads, railways, ports etc. for joint development will bring huge investments and foreign exchange to the island nation, India’s envoy in Sri Lanka High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu said.
The High Commissioner however noted that certain sections, who may not be very well informed, unfortunately, have been trying to portray, that Sri Lankan interests would be harmed, when some of these projects, take off.
Addressing the 9th Annual General Meeting of the Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday in Colombo, the Indian envoy urged the chamber members to project the “right message” about the joint Indo-Lanka projects.
“Nothing could be further, from truth. These are, JOINT projects. These projects bring huge investments, and valuable foreign exchange, for Sri Lanka. They create several thousands, of direct and indirect jobs. These projects, only bring benefits, to Sri Lanka. You are, practical and pragmatic. We would like you to project, the right message, in your interactions,” Sandhu said.
The High Commissioner said India intends to make, substantial investments in Sri Lanka, in conventional, and non-conventional energy, in the days ahead.
“Considering that LNG, is a cheaper and cleaner fuel, we are sharing our expertise, and skillset, with Sri Lanka, to facilitate the process of gasification, of the Sri Lankan economy. We also see, huge potential in Sri Lanka, for wind and solar energy, as well. India has made rapid advance in solar technology and we are ready to share it with Sri Lanka,” he said.
He noted that Sri Lanka has also started its journey, with renewed vigor, in meeting the developmental aspirations, of its people.
“We want to make this journey, faster and easier. In doing so, we want to ensure, that the journey is, as important, as destination itself,” he said.
The high Commissioner noted that India’s development partnership with Sri Lanka, currently stands at, US$ 2.6 billion and said India is ready to strengthen, the development partnership further, based on Sri Lanka’s needs.
Recalling that total bilateral trade has increased 8 times since India and Sri Lanka, entered into an FTA in 2000, High Commissioner Sandhu said while a majority of Sri Lanka’s exports to India are through FTA, a majority of India’s exports to Sri Lanka are outside the FTA.
Share of FTA items in Sri Lanka’s exports to India increased from 16% in 2000 to more than 65% in recent years while hare of FTA items in India’s exports to Sri Lanka increased from 9% in 2000 to just 13% in recent years.
He said that the two countries have been working, towards expanding the contours, of the FTA to cover, investments and services and the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) is in mutual interest. However, he reiterated that India is ready to move at a pace Sri Lanka is comfortable with.
High Commissioner Sandhu highlighted that Sri Lankan Airlines, is currently the largest foreign carrier, to India and India also contributes, significantly towards Sri Lankan tourism, with an estimated 400,000 Indians visiting Sri Lanka annually. Sri Lanka has been providing MRO services, to Indian airline companies. Similarly, Colombo Dockyard have been supplying vessels to India, and have also been actively engaged, in ship repair business with India. More than 70% of Colombo Port transshipment, is India-related, an important lifeline for Colombo port.
He urged the Chamber members to not only; promote connectivity between India and Sri Lanka, but also, to make use of it. Your participation in business, and investor-meets in India, would help to understand, the changed realities; it would also provide opportunities, to make new contacts,” he told the gathering.
He said, as Chambers, they have a crucial role to play, in disseminating right information.
“We at the High Commission, will do all, we can, to strengthen, the pillars of co-operation, between our two great nations. India is ready to partner Sri Lanka, in its important journey of development, and share experience, expertise and technology,” the envoy assured.
Courtesy: Colombo Page