India provides Sri Lanka USD 55 mn credit line for fertiliser imports

Colombo, Jun 10 (PTI) India has provided a USD 55 million Line of Credit to crisis-hit Sri Lanka for the import of fertiliser, in a bid to help the island nation tide over its worst economic hardships, the Indian High Commission said on Friday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had recently warned of a food crisis in the island nation due to the ongoing economic crisis.

Sri Lanka had requested a credit facility from India for the importation of urea fertiliser of 65,000 metric tonnes (MT) in order to cater the immediate requirement of during the Yala cultivation season, the Indian mission said in a statement

In response to the request, the Government of India agreed to offer a Dollar Credit Line amounting to USD 55 million for procurement of Urea Fertiliser from India, the Indian High Commission said.

Secretary to the Ministry of Finance M Siriwardena signed an agreement with the EXIM Bank of India to obtain a Dollar Credit Line.

The signing of the agreement was overseen by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera and High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay.

The Prime Minister previously indicated that ensuring food security for the populace was his priority as the country is facing grave shortages of essential food items.

The latest credit facility could help to ensure the availability of urea for the upcoming Yala season.

Sri Lanka has suffered crop losses by nearly 50 per cent due to a decision by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to stop the import of chemical fertiliser.

He later admitted it was a wrong decision, having steadfastly maintained that the island should bank on organic rather than chemical farming.

India had previously granted credit lines for fuel and essential food and medicine.

Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948.

The economic crisis has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas and other fuel, toilet paper and even matches, with Sri Lankans for months being forced to wait in lines lasting hours outside stores to buy fuel and cooking gas.