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Sri Lanka seeks currency swap from India as economic pressures builds


Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, held a telephone meeting today, with the Sri Lankan premier requesting economic support from New Delhi as the island's economy faces a massive crisis.

“If the Government of India could provide USD 1.1 billion special SWAP facility to top up USD 400 million under SAARC Facility it would enormously help Sri Lanka in dealing with our foreign exchange issues,” Rajapaksa requested, according to an official Sri Lankan press release.

Rajapaksa has also called on the India PM to speed up the construction of the East Terminal of the Colombo Port, viewing it as an economic boon which could attract foreign investment, despite its opposition from some members of his own government.

During the telephone call, Modi claimed that Sri Lanka has managed the crisis well despite the increased concerns over human rights and expanded military presence, particularly in the North and East.

Modi has further insisted that India is “ready to help under terms that are favourable to Sri Lanka.”

President Rajapaksa applauded Modi’s response to the coronavirus and the support for minority groups however minority rights groups have stated that the Indian economic stimulus package is insufficient. Modi has offered $2.2 billion in terms of support for India’s approximately 800 million poor but 47 Roots reports that such funds are only a small proportion of the financial support is reaching the impoverished. 47 Roots also report on issues of police brutality and anti-muslim bigotry throughout India. Sri Lanka faces similar issues of intimidation and harassment from the security forces.

Read more here: Why India’s poorest are starving during lockdown - 47 Roots

India has granted Sri Lanka 10 tonnes of medical supplies in support for the COVID-19 response however there are concerns that such funds are being distributed in a partisan manner.

Read more from the President's Media Divison.

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