Sri Lanka is considering the possibility of allowing the usage of the Indian rupee for local transactions just like the dollar, euro and yen to facilitate Indian tourists and businessmen, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said on Saturday.
Sabry was briefing the media here on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India on July 20-21, his first since assuming office last year.
He held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.”We have considered the possibility of using the Indian rupees like we accept the dollar, euro and yen,” he said.
Allowing its direct use would prevent the need for multiple currency conversions for Indian tourists and businessmen.
On Friday, the two countries noted that the decision to designate INR as currency for trade settlements between the two countries has forged stronger and mutually-beneficial commercial linkages, and agreed to operationalise the Unified Payments Interface-based digital payments for further enhancing trade and transactions between businesses and common people.
The two countries signed the Network to Network Agreement between NIPL and Lanka Pay for UPI application acceptance in Sri Lanka after bilateral talks between Modi and Wickremesinghe.
On an MoU signed with India on the development of Trincomalee as a regional hub for industry, energy and bilateral cooperation, Sabry saw no objections coming from China.
“We are a non-aligned state, we have only signed an MoU to identify feasible projects through a joint committee. I don’t think any country would object to such open and transparent dealings,” Sabry said.
Sabry said both leaders agreed on the importance of port connectivity between the two countries.
“To reach the next level, we need investments. We discussed ways which would be mutually beneficial to both countries.The tie-ups between not only the two governments but between the private sector were emphasised,” Sabry said.
He said the possibility of Sri Lanka benefiting from the vast economic development in the South Indian region was considered.
“The two leaders agreed for connectivity between the ports for this purpose”, Sabry said.
The need for port connectivity between Colombo and Trincomalee and the South Indian region was agreed between the two leaders.
He said the necessary studies on building a bridge for land connectivity or continuing with the existing ferry services would be soon undertaken.
Getting an Indian university on board to help in Sri Lanka’s digitalisation was also discussed, he added.