Published on: June 22, 2024

The goal is to advance in strong partnership with India to achieve Sri Lanka’s development objectives

  • Joint ventures between India and Sri Lanka in the energy sector will be expedited to benefit the people of both nations.
  • Dedicated to fostering new development for the people of the North who have endured 30 years of conflict – President Unveils Ambitious Plans for Indo-Lanka Collaboration at AIPM 2024.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his commitment to maintaining a strong partnership with India to achieve Sri Lanka’s development goals. Emphasizing the urgency to expedite joint initiatives, President Wickremesinghe highlighted a comprehensive agenda aimed at transformative bilateral projects.

The President highlighted the importance of enhancing cooperation between the two nations, particularly in the energy sector, aiming to foster new development for the Northern region, which has been deeply affected by three decades of conflict.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while delivering a compelling vision for the future of Sri Lanka-India relations during his address at the 31st All India Partner’s Meet 2024 (AIPM 2024), held at ICT Ratnadipa in Colombo.

The AIPM 2024 which was organised by KPGM Sri Lanka and India provided a platform for both countries to reaffirm their commitment to collaborative projects that promise to redefine bilateral relations and propel socio-economic growth.

The 31st All India Partners Meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka from June 20-22, 2024, was collaboratively organized by KPMG in India and KPMG Sri Lanka. The annual meeting of the India Firm is one of the largest events hosted in Colombo, with over 600 India Partners and their families attending. It celebrated achievements from the past year and discussed future plans.

A token of appreciation was extended to President Ranil Wickremesinghe by the Chief Executive Officer of KPMG in India Yezdi Nagporewalla and the Managing Partner KPMG Sri Lanka

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the ceremony, elaborated:

It’s a great pleasure and a privilege to have you in Sri Lanka, in Colombo, holding this meeting. It shows on one hand the close friendship that our two countries have, and on the other hand, the confidence that you have in Sri Lanka.

Having now survived two difficult years, I must acknowledge that this was possible because India gave us a loan of $3.5 billion. All that will be repaid. We have already repaid the loan of $200 million that Bangladesh gave us.

We have just concluded the board of directors meeting of the IMF, which was quite successful and are preparing thereafter to meet with our creditor nations, the Paris Club, India and others, who meet at the official creditors committee next week, and also carrying on discussions with China with the Exim Bank of China.

Once we conclude the discussions, then we come to the next phase. With this, we are ready to sign the agreements with our official creditors and with the Exim Bank of China. So next week, on Wednesday, we will be meeting with the OCC, and also in the course of next week, we are carrying out discussions with the Exim Bank of China. And I hope by next week, or thereafter, that we will have come out of this phase of bankruptcy and into the next phase as we go ahead.

Sri Lanka’s return to business signifies a pivotal decision-making phase. The key question is defining what this return entails. Returning to business as usual would mean continuing as an import-dependent economy, leading to on-going borrowing to fund imports and perpetuating a harmful cycle. Having faced this scenario before, the crucial question now is whether we are willing to repeat this path.

Alternatively, the objective is to gradually shift towards becoming a competitive, export-oriented economy, marking a significant goal. Acknowledging the inherent challenges in this transformation, especially in Sri Lanka’s context, we have adopted a new approach: enacting legislative economic policies to effectively steer this transition.

We will introduce policies aimed at achieving economic transformation: moving towards a highly competitive, digital, green, and export-oriented economy. These policies will establish benchmarks for foreign investments, export earnings, and reducing multi-dimensional poverty—a first in our region.

Traditionally, policies in Sri Lanka have been subject to change with each new government. To address this, we have drafted the Economic Transformation Bill, currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny in Parliament and the courts.

In addition to outlining policies, we are establishing new institutions such as the Economic Commission, which will assume responsibilities from the BOI to drive investment, a dedicated agency for managing investment zones, an International Trade Office to enhance global trade, and a National Productivity Commission to boost productivity. Furthermore, the Institute for Economics and International Trade will serve as a think tank, bringing together economists and experts to shape Sri Lanka’s economic strategies effectively. So this is broadly the route that we intend to take

Second is the second eye, which I have taken on today, which are on my agenda, that’s India. When I was in Delhi last week, I discussed with Prime Minister Modi the need to accelerate the joint program that we have decided, agreed on. So the major ones are identified, and Foreign Minister Jaishankar came down today to have a discussion. Now this will show the new path we are taking, and a number of projects, all will be in one parcel.

It won’t be individual projects. We’ve discussed a fair number of them. First is the grid interconnection between Sri Lanka and India, so that sustainable energy can be transmitted to India, where you all need that very badly. We have the Sampur solar power project, which is a Government to Government (G2G) project, and a three island project, which is where we hope the ground breaking can take place in July.

So that’s the basis of our energy partnership, and we are looking at developing Polk Straight for wind energy and solar energy, both countries to get together and have a , large farm for solar energy, for renewable energy. It also means that we will have a new economy for the northern province, which was worst affected by the wars.

In addition to energy, we have also discussed India helping us to expand the Kankasanturai port, which is the major port on the Jaffna Peninsula, and to ensure that more business comes into the port. We are also discussing with India on airport development, on the Palali airport, on the Colombo airport.

The National Livestock Development Board of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with India’s Amul Dairy Company, has highlighted the program aimed at enhancing liquid milk production in the country. That’s the big project, which virtually the bulk of our, organized dairy industry.

Additionally, there is a focus on a project to establish a land connectivity between Sri Lanka and India. Extensive discussions have also taken place regarding expediting the Trincomalee Development Project, which encompasses industrial investment zones and tourist areas. Furthermore, plans are underway to construct a multi-product oil pipeline from Nagapatnam to Trincomalee, pending the final observation report. Trincomalee is poised to become a hub for oil refining, with the development of ports and investment zones, transforming Trincomalee Port into a significant hub on the Bay of Bengal.

Today, the entire East Coast is being opened up for tourism, with additional land earmarked for hotels in Galle and southern areas. Moreover, there are plans to establish more investment zones across the country, alongside expanding our professional training programs. In these endeavours, we are collaborating closely with India.

In this momentous event the Chief Executive Officer of KPMG in India Yezdi Nagporewalla praised President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visionary leadership and unwavering dedication to the welfare of the Sri Lankan people, highlighting his role in guiding the nation towards a promising future amidst various challenges. He emphasized that the President’s initiatives in advancing economic development, strengthening democratic institutions, and fostering societal cohesion have earned both national admiration and international acclaim, positioning Sri Lanka as a model nation.

Highlighting the enhanced connectivity and collaboration between the two nations, Mr. Nagporewalla also described President Wickremesinghe’s presence at the assembly as a testament to the robust and enduring relationship between the countries, founded on shared values, mutual respect, and a commitment to global advancement.

Several partners from other member firms of the KPMG Global network joined this meeting, while other leading Indian business and industry luminaries also participated in the event.

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