United States Agency for International Development (USAID) chief Samantha Power on Wednesday lauded India for reacting swiftly to help Sri Lanka by providing humanitarian assistance and added that China had offered opaque deals to the island nation.
"Government of India has reacted swiftly with an absolute critical set of measures. The government of India has already supplied 16 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka.
It has exported a hundred thousand tonnes of organic fertiliser to help farmers stave off future food shortages. It has supplied 3.5 billion dollars of a line of credit to the government of Sri Lanka as it attempts to steer the economy out of default," Power said.
The USAID chief contrasted this to the People's Republic of China which has been an eager creditor of the Sri Lankan government since the mid-2000s.
"Indeed in the past 2 decades, China became Sri Lanka's biggest creditor often offering opaque loan deals at higher interest rates than other lenders and financing a raft of headline-grabbing infrastructure projects with often questionable practical use for Sri Lankans including a massive port that generator little income and was barely used by ships. Equally, a massive airport dubbed the emptiest in the world because it attracted so few passengers," Power said at IIT Delhi.
She also hoped that the important question would be whether China will restructure its debt to Sri Lanka.
"As the economic condition has soured, Beijing has promised lines of credit and emergency loans, this is critical as Beijing is estimated to hold atleast 15 per cent of Sri Lanka's foreign debt. The cause to provide significant relief has gone unanswered. The question is whether Beijing will restructure debt to the same same extent as other bilateral creditors," she added.
Power also highlighted, "It is essential that Beijing participate in debt relief transparently and on equitable terms with all other creditors." She mentioned in her speech that India has helped countries around the world in times of difficulty.
Power is on a visit to India from July 25 to 27. The USAID is one of the leading aid agencies globally.
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