President appeals to Int’l Community

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appealed to the international community to help crisis-hit Sri Lanka to overcome the shortages in country’s immediate needs such as fuel, food and medicine.

The President made this statement addressing the 27th International Conference on the Future of Asia (Nikkei) held in Tokyo, Japan, via video call, yesterday (26).

He said Sri Lanka urgently requires the assistance of the international community to ensure that the country’s immediate needs in terms of the importation of essential medicines, food supplies and fuel aremet.

Japan’s Nikkei newspaper has been organising the conference annually since 1995. The theme of this year’s two-day conference is ‘Redefining Asia’s Role in a Divided World.’

Rajapaksa said a new Prime Minister and a Cabinet were appointed with the representation of multiple political parties and are engaging in discussions in Parliament towards reaching a national consensus on the way forward.

The President pointed out that as Sri Lanka is Asia’s oldest democracy it is crucial that the solutions to our present national crisis are supported through our nation’s democratic framework.

“The virtual shutting down of the tourism industry and the sharp decline in inward remittances from expatriate workers due to Covid-19 in the past two years and increasing inflation due to other related events combined with Sri Lanka’s high outstanding debt obligations have caused a severe financial crisis,” the President said.

In April, Sri Lanka announced a ‘Debt Standstill’ with the intention of restructuring this external public debt through negotiations with our creditors, whilst simultaneously approaching the International Monetary Fund for a suitable programme.

“As we work through such solutions, however, we urgently require the assistance of our friends in the international community to ensure that our immediate needs in terms of the importation of essential medicines, food supplies, and fuel are met,” President Rajapaksa added.

“An even more widespread problem that the world will face in future, concerns food security. The shortages of food items and sharp increases in food prices are likely to occur in the months ahead will place considerable strain on many countries,” the President further said.

It is therefore essential that we pay attention to this crucial problem and prioritise agricultural production locally and improve our resilience in the face of this potential threat. The President stressed that the increased cooperation amongst nations will also be necessary to ensure that we overcome this issue.

The Future of Asia is an international gathering where political, economic and academic leaders from the Asia-Pacific region offer their opinions frankly and freely on regional issues and the role of Asia in the world.

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan o Cha, Laos President Thongloun Sisoulith, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and many academics and experts will address the forum.