New Delhi: The Centre has convened an all-party meeting on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will brief floor leaders of all political parties in both the Houses of Parliament at the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said at an all-party meeting held here on Sunday. “On Tuesday, we are calling for another all-party meeting to brief on the Lankan crisis. We have requested Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to hold this briefing,” Joshi said on Sunday.
According to sources, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra is likely to make a presentation before the members on the situation in Lanka and the assistance that India has given in the past to the island nation. “The government is calling for suo motto meeting to address the concerns of several political parties, especially in Tamil Nadu as they are worried about the Sri Lankan crisis and the influx of refugees in the state,” the sources said.
In his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EAM Jaishankar, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed his concern about the situation in Lanka and asked for permission to send relief material to the island nation that is suffering an economic crisis.
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At the all-party meeting on Sunday, both DMK and AIADMK leaders had urged the Centre to intervene in the crisis to help the neighbouring country resolve its crisis. Sri Lanka is facing an economic and political crisis with inflation and a severe shortage of fuel and other essential supplies.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 73, had gone into hiding after protesters stormed his residence on July 9 and his resignation was finally accepted by the Parliament Speaker. The 225-member Parliament will elect the new president by a vote on July 20. Ranil Wickramasinghe who had announced his resignation as Prime Minister was sworn in as president on a temporary basis on Friday.
The oil supply shortage has forced schools and government offices to close until further notice. Reduced domestic agricultural production, a lack of foreign exchange reserves, and local currency depreciation have fuelled the shortages.
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Sri Lanka`s multiple crises have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which saw the collapse of the crucial tourism industry, which provides foreign currency for imported fuel and medical supplies, and rocked by the supply chain crisis precipitated by the Ukraine war.
The economic crisis will push families into hunger and poverty – some for the first time – adding to the half a million people who the World Bank estimates have fallen below the poverty line because of the pandemic. Amidst the crisis in Sri Lanka, India has extended this year alone support of over USD 3.8 billion for ameliorating the serious economic situation in the island nation as a mark of its Neighbourhood First policy.