By Santhush Fernando in Colombo
Colombo, 30 November, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka and Pakistan delegates have who concluded the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Forum in Colombo today (29.11.2010) agreed on drastic measures that would increase economic ties between the two nations significantly.
Among the significant milestones of President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Sri Lanka was the agreement to double the export financing facility extended to Sri Lanka from US $ 100mn (Rs. 11.1bn) to US $ 200mn (Rs. 22.2bn).
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Forum was attended by President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, Minister of State/Chairman of the Board of Investment of Pakistan, Saleem H Mandviwala, High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, (Ms.) Seema Illahi Baloch, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody and other distinguished guests.
Referring to the financing facility, President Zardari said that dollar trade should not become a burden to the two countries. Furthermore he opined that any capital invested in Sri Lanka should be re-invested in order to allow the formerly war-torn economy to grow, as it should.
“We are not here for ‘fly-by-night’ (business) operations. Sri Lanka needs lot of investment in infrastructure. Capital invested here must be re-invested while only the profits should be taken out,” opined President Zardari.
He added that Germany was still in the process of getting out of such a phase.
“If that is the case of Germany, Sri Lanka needs more (assistance)” he said.
During his address, Minister of State/Chairman of the Board of Investment of Pakistan, Saleem Mandviwalla, said that the two countries were able agree on the US 200mn soft loan for exports payments to Sri Lanka.
Earlier, Pakistan media critisised Investment Minister Saleem Mandviwalla making a commitment to Colombo to provide $100 million export financing facility without taking the Finance Ministry and the cabinet into confidence. However the loan amount seemed to have been doubled with the apparent baking of President Zardari.
Adding fervor to the occasion, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing the Business Forum said that Sri Lanka and Pakistan anticipated doubling trade between the two countries from Rs. 28bn to Rs. 55.5bn by 2015.
SriLankan Airlines and Pakistan Air Lines (PAL) would co-operate to have direct flights between the two countries Minister Mandviwalla added. At present, those who wish to travel from one of the two countries to the other would have to travel to Dubai to catch the connecting flight.
Furthermore, National Bank of Pakistan would also open in Colombo in the near future, he added.
– Asian Tribune –