Sri Lanka crisis | International

New Delhi extends assistance of more than $3 billion to Sri Lanka in 2022: Indian High Commission in Colombo

Motorists queue up to buy fuel at a Ceylon Petroleum Corporation fuel station, in Colombo, on May 2. | Photo Credit: AFP

India has committed more than $3 billion to debt-ridden Sri Lanka in loans, credit lines and credit swaps since January this year, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said on May 3, as the island nation tries to navigate through its worst economic crisis since independence.

On Monday, India had extended its current credit line by a further $200 million to replenish Sri Lanka’s rapidly depleting fuel stocks.

The ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices. “The $1 billion credit facility for the purchase of food, medicines and other essential commodities is already operational,” a statement from the Indian High Commission said, adding that around 16,000 metric tonnes of rice supplied by India is also being distributed.

“Additional consignments of rice, medicines and industrial raw materials and other essentials are envisaged under the credit line,” the statement added. “A separate Line of Credit of $500 million for the purchase of petroleum products, such as diesel, petrol and aviation fuel has paved the way for the delivery of nine consignments of different types of fuel,” it said.

In April this year, ahead of the Sinhala and Tamil new year, India had sent an additional 11,000 MT of rice as a goodwill gesture. In February, New Delhi had granted $500 billion as short-term loan to Sri Lanka to procure fuel stocks.

“Close to 4,00,000 MT of fuel have been delivered till date and more consignments will arrive soon,” the statement added. Last month, India had responded to a Sri Lankan hospital’s call for urgent medical supplies by delivering a large consignment of important drugs with the help of an Indian Navy ship.

Overall economic assistance which stands a shade above $3 billion in 2022 alone has been of various kinds – $1 billion credit line for essentials; $500 million credit line for purchase of petroleum products; $400 million bilateral currency swap; and over $1 billion under the Asian Clearing Union Framework.

The Sri Lankan government said it would temporarily default on $35.5 billion in foreign debt as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine made it impossible to make payments to overseas creditors.

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime has also asked for an International Monetary Fund bailout, which could take up to three months to arrive. According to the data published by the government’s Census and Statistics Office, the overall inflation hit 29.8% in April from 18.7% recorded in March. The food inflation increased from 30.21% in March to 46.6% in April. Most food items have recorded price increases.

Months of lengthy blackouts and acute shortages of food, fuel and pharmaceuticals have triggered widespread protests clamouring for the government's resignation.

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Printable version | May 3, 2022 8:23:48 pm |