Colombo: With a total of USD 968 million in loans in four months of 2022, India has emerged as Sri Lanka's largest bilateral lender, overtaking China in the process, a media report said.

In the past five years from 2017-2021, China has been the largest bilateral lender to Sri Lanka as China disbursed USD 947 million, out of which USD 809 million was obtained as market borrowings from the China Development Bank, Daily Financial Times (FT) reported citing public

It said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been the largest multilateral lender in the past five years and disbursed funds amounting to USD 610 million in 2021.

India has disbursed USD 377 million and ADB has disbursed USD 360 million, which account for 76 per cent of the total disbursements in the first four months of 2022, according to Daily FT.

Meanwhile, at a UNGA Annual Joint Debate on the Reports of Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ruchira Kamboj said that India had provided nearly USD 4 billion in food and financial assistance to Sri Lanka.

"In our immediate neighbourhood, we are continuing to help our good friend and neighbour Sri Lanka to ensure food security by providing nearly USD 4 billion in food and financial assistance during the past few months," Kamboj said.

On August 22, India handed over 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer to the crisis-ridden neighbour Sri Lanka.

"Adding to the fragrance of friendship and cooperation. High Commissioner formally handed over 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer supplied under India's special support to the people of Sri Lanka," tweeted the High Commission of India in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"This follows 44,000 tonnes supplied last month under Indian support totalling about USD 4 billion in 2022. The fertilizer will contribute to food security and support the farmers of Sri Lanka. It demonstrates benefits to the people from close ties with #India and mutual trust and goodwill between #India and #Sri Lanka," added the High Commission of India.

India has been at forefront of extending economic assistance to Sri Lanka as per their requirements and is one of the countries that have provided the maximum amount of assistance in time of need.

Since the beginning of 2022, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans.

Sri Lanka is battling a severe economic crisis with food and fuel scarcity affecting a large number of the people in the island nation. The economy has been in a free-fall since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sri Lanka is also facing a foreign exchange shortage, which has, incidentally, affected its capacity to import food and fuel, leading to power cuts in the country. The shortage of essential goods forced Sri Lanka to seek assistance from friendly countries.