Indian Finance Minister calls on Asgiriya, Malwatta chief prelates

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday (Nov. 01), embarked on a three-day official visit to Sri Lanka.

In Kandy, she called on two Buddhist leaders: Chief Prelate of Asgiriya, Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero, and Chief Prelate of Malwatte, Most Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero.

“FM Smt. @nsitharaman discussed the continued tradition of strong historical and cultural ties between India and Sri Lanka. Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana acknowledged the cordial relations between the two countries and expressed gratitude for the support from India during the times of economic hardship in Sri Lanka,” the Indian Finance Ministry said in a post on X.
Sri Lanka was struggling to come out of the financial crisis hit last year, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.

As the country struggled and locked in the throes of the crisis, India extended multi-pronged assistance of about $4 billion to it last year through multiple credit lines and currency support, in line with India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

During the meeting with the Chief Prelate of Asgiriya and Malwatte, Minister Sitharaman emphasised the continued tradition of friendly relations between India and Sri Lanka. Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana thanked Sitharaman and India for the assistance for the solar project and indicated that it is a timely and supportive step towards their energy needs.

Earlier in the day, she was received by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Water Supply, Estate Infrastructure Development, Jeevan Thondaman.

As part of her official trip, the finance minister will also be present at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for solar electrification of religious places in Sri Lanka on Thursday in the presence of Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

For this project, India will allocate ₹82.40 crore out of the Government of India grant assistance of ₹107.47 crore earmarked for the promotion of Buddhist ties.

On her trip, FM Sitharaman will also give a keynote address at “NAAM 200” which marks the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian-origin Tamils in Sri Lanka. She will also inaugurate branches of the State Bank of India (SBI) at Trincomalee and Jaffna.

While in Sri Lanka, she will also visit Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) oil tank farms in Jaffna, the cultural centre and the Jaffna Public Library.