Sri Lanka expedites US$191mn India financed rail, power deals
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cleared the way for 191 million dollars of India financed deals to go ahead while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had also invited the neighboring country to invest in Colombo port, another long-delayed project.
The Cabinet of Ministers approved lifting of taxes from a rail project running from Maho to Omanthai, on June 10, the state information office said.
The contract was originally awarded to India’s IRCON Engineering for 91 million US dollars as far back as April 2019.
The project will see the track upgraded to run trains at 120 kilometres an hour. The track up to Jaffna has already been upgraded by India.
A 100 million US dollar project to fix rooftop solar on state agencies and low income houses in Mannar, Trincomallee, Moneragala, Anuradhapura and Hambantota was also approved.
During a telephone conversation between President Gotabaya Rajapasksa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23, it was agreed to expedite Indian financed projects, India’s External Affairs Ministry said.
Sri Lanka has requested a 400 million US dollar foreign exchange swap for the Central Bank of Sri Lanka from the Reserve Bank of India after money printing led to forex shortages raising fears over the ability of repaying debt, and a further billion US dollars.
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe agreed to expedite Indian investments in power and Colombo ports after President Maithripala Sirisena blocked a Indian backed coal power plant in Trincomallee.
Tenders called to build Colombo Ports East Terminal which attracted top shipping lines with Indian partners as joint ventures, which would have brought lease rentals and container royalties to Sri Lanka Ports Authority was also halted midway under Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration. (Colombo/June12/2020)