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The Government of India has extended its fullest cooperation to boost Sri Lanka's investment and tourism sectors, which have been hit by the Covid -19 (Corona) epidemic. Accordingly, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, H.E Gopal Bagley assured that the necessary financial, technical and other support will be provided for this purpose.

The Indian High Commissioner made this observation at a meeting held with the Hon. Prasanna Ranatunga, Minister of Industrial Export, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Aviation  at the Ministry yesterday.  Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga was the first Cabinet Minister that the Indian High Commissioner met, after his appointment as Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.

The Indian High Commissioner commended the measures taken by the current government of H.E President, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for controlling the Covid -19 epidemic and assured that India will support the investment and tourism sectors, once the Covid -19 epidemic in the world is under control.

The Indian High Commissioner stated that Indian businessmen are willing to invest in Sri Lanka and expressed their willingness to invest in Sri Lanka in the fields of food security, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products and fuel refining. The Indian High Commissioner has agreed to implement a joint investment program between the two countries after the Covid -19 epidemic.  The Government of India has provided a grant of Rs. 250 million for the construction of a new business centre to empower the budding and new entrepreneurs in the North.  The two sides exchanged views regarding the proposed centre to be set up in the Jaffna Cultural Centre.  Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga stated that project works would be completed very soon.

The Indian High Commissioner stated that Indians would like to have their wedding ceremonies in Sri Lanka and Indians are also willing to come to Sri Lanka to visit places related to Ramayana, as Sri Lankans visit India to visit Buddhist places of worship. Hon.Minister Prasanna Ranatunga stated that the Tourism Development Authority has paid attention to this matter.  The meeting also focused on the inauguration of a new housing project in Madu area for both local and foreign tourists and pilgrims.  The Indian government has provided Rs. 300 million for this project.  144 houses are to be constructed accordingly.

The two parties also discussed the development activities of the Palali Airport in Jaffna.  India has allocated Rs. 300 million for the development of the Palali Airport.  The Indian High Commissioner and Hon.Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga also agreed to sign the relevant agreements expeditiously.

 The Indian High Commissioner also inquired about the opening of the Bandaranaike International Airport and the arrival of tourists. Hon. Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga expressed his confidence that the airport would be open for tourists before August 01st.  The Minister said that although the airport is scheduled to be opened for tourists on August 01st, the Katunayake airport could be opened before August 01st, if the repatriation of Sri Lankans abroad is over.

Secretary to the Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Mr.Mapa Pathirana and Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Mr. S. Hettiarachchi also participated in the discussion.

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