A Chinese spy ship docked at Sri Lankan port recently

Mumbai: India came forward to help during tough times, said Sri Lankan Finance Minister Shehan Semansinghe in Mumbai on Friday.

Semasinghe said, "India played a major role in Sri Lanka's recovery process and stabilization process. And I'm sure will play a major role in the growth of the economy, too. So we are thankful to the government of India as well as to the Indian people because India stepped in during the most crucial period of economic crisis. And I'm sure Indians also could be happy that Sri Lanka has recovered."

Semasinghe while appreciating the support of India in difficult times said that "India helped us to get a good rating from IMF and that told the world that Srilanka is back in business."

He added, "Past 3 months were extremely difficult for us. There was food shortage fuel shortage, Electricity cuts etc... After the EFF was approved this changed drastically. We are happy to say that we engage positively with our mutual creditors. We are happy that we have recovered and we are well on the positive roadmap of recovery and soon we will start growing."

The Sri Lankan Minister also explained the present situation in the country and said that the new anti-corruption law has been introduced, a new budget office of parliament is opened, and a new central bank act which will keep the central bank from any interference is also being introduced.

He also mentioned the role of the tourism sector in regaining economic stability in the country and said that our tourism is growing and we still think that our full capacity is not being utilised fully for tourism, India is our first priority.

He further added, "We want to prioritise our few sectors for investment, Energy sector is one the most prominent sectors, Renewable energy is also a key sector, PM Modi and President Vikarmshinghe discussed this in their recent meeting. We are open to the whole world. We have learnt a lot from our crisis and we are sure that there won't be any issue with our debt".

Referring to the import restrictions on Sri Lanka said, "Now as we are establishing, and our reserves are getting better we are relaxing our import restrictions and we expect that by the end of September, all the import restrictions will be done away except the automobile."

Last Year, India extended aid worth USD 3.9 billion to help Sri Lanka sustain itself in the face of the acute economic and financial crisis and meet its immediate needs such as medicines, cooking gas, oil and food items, Sri Lanka-based news publication News 19 reported.

In February 2022, India in order to help Sri Lanka overcome its fuel shortage, signed an agreement for the supply of petroleum products worth USD 500 million from the Indian Oil Company through a credit line.

This was expanded by an additional USD 200 million worth of petroleum products in April 2022.

India's EXIM bank and State Bank of India, for the import of essential commodities, extended export credit facilities worth USD 1,500 million to Sri Lanka. India also concluded a USD 400 million agreement with Sri Lanka to help preserve the country's forex reserves.

A USD 1 billion credit line for essential goods, a USD 500 million credit line for fuel, and a USD 55 million credit line for fertiliser have been extended to Sri Lanka, News 19 reported.

India has been helping Sri Lanka with donations out of goodwill and humanitarian assistance. India will supply Sri Lankan Transport Department with a fleet of 500 buses. A total of 75 buses were handed over to Sri Lanka by India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Bagalay.

According to News 19, India's support to Sri Lanka is in line with its 'Neighbourhood First' policy under which India prioritises the security and development of its neighbours.