India to help Trincomalee become regional energy hub
March 13, 2015 12:14 pm
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced that the Indian government will extend visa on arrival facility to Sri Lankan nationals from 14 April this year.
India and Sri Lanka on Friday inked four agreements, including on cooperation in customs, as Modi held talks with President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo.
Modi, who arrived in Sri Lanka in the morning from Mauritius, was received at the airport by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Later, he was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the presidential secretariat. Modi and Sirisena then held delegation level talks after which the two sides inked four agreements.
The agreements are for exemption from visa for holders of diplomatic passports, cooperation in mutual assistance in customs, an MoU for youth development, and another for establishing a Rabindranath Tagore museum at a Sri Lanka university.
Prime Minister Modi stated that India stands ready to help Trincomalee be a regional petroleum hub and also announced plans for US$380 million Indian credit line facility for the railway sector in Sri Lanka.
An agreement on currency swap to the tune of US$ 1.5 million was also announced by both nations.
“I eagerly look forward to visiting one of our closest neighbors and a nation with which we share so much. I am truly honored by your warm welcome and friendship,” Modi said.
“This is how it should be between neighbors. We should meet regularly. It helps us understand each other better, find solution to mutual concerns and move our friendship forward.”
“That is what we achieved in my meeting with President Sirisena today,” he said, delivering a speech at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.
Concerns about trade with India
He stated that economic ties are a “key pillar” in the relationship between the two nations and vowed to address the concerns in Sri Lanka regarding trade with India.
“I’m aware of your concerns about trade with India. As I said in Delhi we will try and address them.”
He stated that the agreement signed between the two countries on customs cooperation “is a step in that direction.” “It will simplify trade and reduce non-tariff barriers on both sides.”
“We are not just looking at addressing problems. We are also focusing on new opportunities,” the Indian Prime Minister said.
Trincomalee a regional energy hub
“Today Lanka IOC and Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have agreed to joint develop the upper tank farm of the China Bay installation in Trincomalee, on mutually agreed terms.”
“A joint task force will be constituted soon to work out the modalities. India stands ready to help Trincomalee become a regional petroleum hub,” he said.
The Indian Premier said he also looks forward to the early commencement of work on the ground in the Sampur coal power project. “This landmark project will meet Sri Lanka’s energy needs.”
On arrival visa for Sri Lankans
“We will extend the facility of tourist visa on arrival with electronic travel authorization scheme to Sri Lankan nationals from the Sinhala and Tamil New Year on 14th of April, 2015.”
“Air India will soon start direct flight between New Delhi and Colombo,” Modi added.
“We will cooperate in developing a Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka and a Buddhist Circuit in India.”
Fresh line of credit for railway sector
The Prime Minister said that India is “privileged” to be a development partner of Sri Lanka.
“We will provide a fresh line of credit of up to US$380 million for the railway sector. This will be used to procure rolling stock and to restore and upgrade existing railway track.”
Currency swap agreement
“The Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka have agreed to enter a currency swap agreement of US$ 1.5 billion. This will help keep the Sri Lankan rupee stable.”
“We discussed the fishermen’s issue.” This complex issue involves livelihood and humanitarian concerns on both sides, he said. “We should handle it from this perspective while at the same time we need to find a long-term solution to this issue.”
“It is also important that fishermen’s associations of India and Sri Lanka meet at earliest to find a mutually acceptable agreement. It can then be taken forward by both governments.”
Full implementation of 13A
The Prime Minister conveyed India’s “sincere support and good wishes” for Sri Lanka’s new journey of peace, reconciliation and progress.
“We stand with you in your efforts to build a future that accommodates the aspirations of all sections of the society including Sri Lanka Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a united Sri Lanka.”
“We believe that early and full implementation of the 13th amendment and going beyond it would contribute this process.”