PM Modi announces a multi-sectoral package for development of eastern province of Sri Lanka

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The President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was on an official visit to India on July 21 at the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. During the visit, both leaders also outlined a common vision of theirs to further develop the bilateral relationship in the coming years, centred around enhanced, extended, and deepened connectivity and a deeper economic partnership. Both have agreed upon it, and it covers various dimensions of connectivity: maritime, air connectivity, energy connectivity, power trade and economic connectivity, financial connectivity, digital connectivity, and also resulting people-to-people engagement.

Under the Neighbourhood First policy, which was enunciated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, both sides also finalised a series of important documents covering crucial areas of economic cooperation. The first was the MoU on renewable energy.
The second one relates to Trincomalee, where both Leaders underscored the need to build upon the advantages that have already accrued from the agreement on the Trinco tank farms, the agreement of 2021, and through the MoU exchange, both sides agreed to develop Trincomalee as a regional hub for industry energy, including renewable energy and economic cooperation. A crucial element of connectivity, particularly maritime connectivity, was discussed, focusing on the resumption of passenger ferry services between India and Sri Lanka. In this connection, both sides are looking at connecting Nagapattinam in India with Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka.

India is currently the largest source of inbound tourism to Sri Lanka. In this context, the Sri Lankan President articulated his future plans for attracting a larger number of Indian tourists, including through the promotion of the Ramayana Trail, Buddhist, Hindu circuits, and other places of religious worship in Sri Lanka. key outcome that was related to the digital connectivity and, through the digital, the fintech connectivity was an agreement reached between NPCI International and Lanka Pay on UPI-based digital payments.

Digitalization and digital public infrastructure, and the role these two things can play in the development partnership between the two countries, were also important elements of discussion between the two Leaders. Both the Prime Minister and the Sri Lankan President noted the successful implementation of the ongoing Sri Lanka unique digital identity project, which is being implemented through Indian grant assistance and would assist and enable the Sri Lankan Government to deliver and host a lot of citizen centric services for its people. This year, marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Indian-Origin Tamil community in Sri Lanka, and to commemorate this significant moment of history, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of India will be implementing a development package exclusively catering to the Indian-Origin Tamil community. The Prime Minister also announced a multi-sectoral package to support the economic development of the eastern province of Sri Lanka.

Both sides also exchanged views on the challenges being faced in dealing with the issues relating to fishermen and fishing boats and agreed on the need to approach this from a humanitarian perspective.