India responded “very quickly” with an absolutely critical set of measures to help Sri Lanka overcome the economic crisis, but calls for Beijing to provide significant assistance have gone unanswered, a visiting USAID administrator Samantha Power said on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event in Delhi IIT, Power said China was becoming one of Sri Lanka’s “largest creditors” often offering “opaque loan” deals at higher interest rates than other lenders, and questioned whether Beijing would restructure its debt in order to help the island nation.
Power will visit India from 25 to 27 July. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is one of the leading aid organizations worldwide.
“India has responded very quickly with an absolutely critical set of measures,” she said.
The USAID administrator also referred to India’s $3.5 billion (one billion = 100 crores) credit line to Sri Lanka and other aid to help the country pull its economy out of despair and further collapse.
“Compare this with the People’s Republic of China, which has been an increasingly eager creditor of Sri Lankan governments since the mid-2000s,” Power said.
Indeed, over the past two decades China has become one of Sri Lanka’s largest creditors, often offering opaque loan agreements at higher interest rates than other lenders and financing a series of groundbreaking infrastructure projects of often dubious practicality to Sri Lankans, including a huge port. … that generated little income and was hardly used by ships,” she said in a clear reference to the port of Hambanthota.
Power said India has helped countries around the world in times of difficulty.
The US official said Beijing promised lines of credit to Sri Lanka but it paused to provide significant relief.
“Calls for more significant relief have gone unanswered and the biggest question is whether Beijing will restructure debt to the same extent as other bilateral creditors,” she said.
In her speech, Power also underlined the need to uphold democratic principles, individual rights and the importance of a pluralistic society.
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