Foreign envoys in Sri Lanka meet with new Finance Minister to discuss way forward
Ambassadors of the US, Germany, China, Russia, European Union in Sri Lanka as well as the High Commissioners of the UK and India in Sri Lanka have reportedly called on the country’s newly appointed Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa at the Finance Ministry.
This was the first in a series of meetings between the foreign envoys and Finance Minister Rajapaksa since he assumed office.
US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz, German Ambassador Holger Lothar Seubert, Russian Ambassador Yuri B. Materiy, Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong, EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay and British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton had paid a courtesy call on the new Finance Minister.
During the bilateral discussions, the Finance Minister has reportedly said the government of Sri Lanka will focus on creating a green economy and seek support to promote renewable energy throughout the country, keeping in line with the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement – ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.
Rajapaksa has further said that the government is also focusing on upgrading the infrastructure required for the development of the transport sector in an environmentally friendly manner whilst gradually minimising fuel consumption.
The British High Commissioner and the EU Ambassador have reportedly welcomed the government’s interest in renewable energy and the green economy.
The British High Commissioner has further appreciated the use of local builders for the construction of the Central Expressway and extended to support assistance in going forward.
The Indian High Commissioner has meanwhile commended Sri Lanka’s ability to maintain the economic growth around 4.7% in the first quarter despite the Covid 19 pandemic and expressed confidence that the momentum will continue to achieve the expected 5.5% growth in the future.
The Indian High Commissioner has also agreed to further enhance bilateral trade with Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador has assured to support Sri Lanka to combat the pandemic, whilst providing the required vaccine doses to expedite Government’s efforts to inoculate its population.
He has reportedly affirmed to attract high-level investors to the impending Hambantota Industrial Zone.
The German Ambassador has said that the German Government was looking forward to providing more assistance to enhance the facilities of the existing German Technical Colleges throughout the country and to assist small and medium scale (SME) industry investors to expand their business.
The US Ambassador during the discussion has assured to further enhance bilateral cooperation and work with Sri Lanka in mutual understanding. Welcoming the Sri Lankan government’s Green Economic Programme, the Ambassador Teplitz has noted that the possibility of attracting investors to the LNG Energy Project will be explored.
The Russian Ambassador has noted that the Russian government would continue to support the vaccination programme to combat the virus.
He has also expressed interest to focus on formulating a joint programme for the production of vaccines.
The string of one to one meetings between Sri Lanka’s new Finance Minister and envoys of several key foreign countries are indicative of the goodwill and confidence of the international community in relation to Sri Lanka. Many business/investment opportunities have been discussed during these meetings indicating the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka. The island is also fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region given its geographical positioning in the Indian ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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