(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – In a significant event held in Colombo, the exchange of bilateral documents took centre stage, marking the initiation of projects supported by a generous USD 15 million grant from the Government of India. This grant is specifically allocated to bolster the longstanding Buddhist connections between India and Sri Lanka, underscoring the deep historical and cultural ties that bind these two nations together.
The signing of the bilateral agreements took place at the President’s House in Colombo yesterday (02). President Wickremesinghe and Hon Finance Minister of India Ms Nirmala Sitaraman engaged in lengthy bilateral discussions during this event.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of this substantial grant underscores the significance of strengthening Buddhist linkages between the two countries. The grant could be allocated towards various initiatives, including the construction and renovation of Buddhist monasteries, capacity development, cultural exchange, archaeological cooperation, reciprocal exhibition of relics and other areas of mutual interest.
In recognition of the evolving economic landscape in Sri Lanka, both countries have agreed to recalibrate the grant amount from Sri Lankan Rupees to Indian Rupees, aligning it with the prevailing market conditions. This adjustment is being formalized through diplomatic Letters of Exchange and Acceptance, signifying a shared commitment to further enhancing these ties.
High Commissioner of India, Gopal Baglay and Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Somaratne Vidanapathirana, played pivotal roles in exchanging these documents, and this momentous occasion was witnessed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Hon Finance Minister of India Ms Nirmala Sitaraman.
The first project to be initiated under the USD 15 million grant is the solar electrification of religious sites across Sri Lanka, with an allocation of USD 10 million. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for this significant project was jointly finalized by the governments of India and Sri Lanka.
This historic moment was captured with a photograph featuring all distinguished participants, celebrating a significant milestone in the bilateral relations of India and Sri Lanka.
This event was graced by the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure development Jeewan Thondaman, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka HE Gopal Bhaglay, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to the President Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary to the President Mr Saman Ekanayake, Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Senior Economic Advisor to the President, Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance Mr. K. M. Mahinda Siriwardana, Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Mr. Somaratne Vidanapathirana, Members of the Indian High Commission, members of the visiting Indian delegation, Foreign Ministry officials and High level Government officials.