Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Inaugurated the Trincomalee branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) in eastern Sri Lanka on 2 November 2023. The ceremony was attended by the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, Dinesh Khara, Chairman SBI and Senthil Thondaman, the Governor of Eastern Province.
Nirmala Sitharaman is on a three-day (1 -3 November 2023) visit to Sri Lanka. She also attended several events in the country and presided over the signing of agreements between the two countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The SBI is the largest Indian commercial bank, which has been operational in Sri Lanka since 1864. Before the opening of the Trincomalee branch, SBI had five branches in the country- Fort & FCBU branches at the main building in Fort Areas of Colombo, Colpetty branch, Wellawatte branch and Kandy branch.
The SBI has also opened a new branch in Jaffna. The Finance Minister will inaugurate it on 3 November 2023. The total number of branches of SBI in Sri Lanka is 7.
During the recent economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the government of India provided $1 billion in assistance to Sri Lanka through SBI.
Nirmala Sitharaman was the chief guest at the NAAM 200 event held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in Colombo on November 2, 2023. The NAAM 200 event marks the 200 year of arrival of Tamils of Indian origin to Sri Lanka. The Tamils were brought by the British to work in the Tea gardens in Sri Lanka.
The event was attended by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and other dignitaries.
Nirmal Sitharaman also participated in the 12th round of the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement, known as ETCA, meeting between the two countries in Colombo.
During the meeting, a discussion was held between the two sides on goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, customs procedures and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade and a range of topics. It aims to further bilateral trade between the two countries.
The Indian side was led by Anant Swarup, the chief negotiator and the joint secretary of the Department of Commerce and Industry of India.
Nirmala Sitharaman gave the keynote address at the India-Sri Lanka Business Summit held at Hotel Taj Samudra in Colombo on 2 November 2023.
The theme of the India Sri Lanka Business Summit was 'Enhancing Connectivity: Partnering for Prosperity',
The Business summit was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), the Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Nirmala Sitharaman also oversaw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)between the two countries for Solar Electrification of Religious Places in Sri Lanka. The Indian government is providing a grant of Rs 82.4 crore rupees for this project out of the Rs 107 core grant meant for Sri Lanka to promote the Buddhist ties between the two countries.
Nirmala Sitharaman also visited the Sri Dalada Maligawa temple in Kandy and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. The Sri Dalada Maligawa temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also called the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. A left Canine tooth of Gautama Buddha is enshrined here.
It's worth noting that the Maha Bodhi, to which Sitharaman paid her respects, was brought to Sri Lanka from India by Emperor Ashoka's daughter Sanghamitra over a thousand two hundred years ago.
It is an island country in the Indian Ocean. The Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar separate Sri Lanka and India.
The country was called Taprobane by the ancient Greeks. Serendib was the Arab name, and Ceylon was the European name.
In 1972, its name was changed to Sri Lanka.
Capital: The country has two capitals. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital (the Sri Lankan Parliament sits here).
Colombo is the Executive and Judicial capital of Sri Lanka.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
President: Ranil Wickremesinghe