EU envoys in Sri Lanka hold talks with President

European Union Ambassadors in Sri Lanka met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for talks today.

The discussion centered on rebuilding the economy following the COVID-19 crisis, the President’s Office said.

“The country was able to quickly deploy the public health system to address the health threat caused by the pandemic. Public Health Inspectors with the support of the Police and Security Forces were able to engage in contact tracing accurately. It was not only those who were infected but also the associates of the infected were quarantined. These measures helped Sri Lanka to successfully combat the virus,” the President was quoted as telling the EU delegation.

The President had observed that the next concern before the country is reviving the economy. He said that the current growth rate is very low and the national debt is high.

To control this dire situation certain controls and restrictions on imports were needed. However, this does not mean Sri Lanka will be a closed economy.

At the same time the President expressed his interest in developing domestic industries. He noted that most food items can be produced locally. Therefore, he stressed on the need for Sri Lanka to modernize this sector. He also spoke of the importance of introducing organic fertilizer, better quality seeds and advanced technologies.

Given the current situation, the President said Sri Lanka would benefit from a debt moratorium. He also emphasized that taking further loans is not an option. Instead of further debt, Sri Lanka needs new investments.

The President directed the EU delegation’s attention to projects such as renewable energy using solar and wind. He also expressed his interest in focusing on an IT based education system so that the youth are more exposed to new technologies.

The EU delegation responded positively to President Rajapaksa and discussed at length a number of ways their respective countries may be able to engage with Sri Lanka in these areas. (Colombo Gazette)