The Weekend Leader - SAARC should come together to save economies: Rajapaksa

SAARC should come together to save economies: Rajapaksa

New Delhi


Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Sunday suggested few measures to be taken by the SAARC countries to tackle the coronavirus outbreak and also appealed to them to help the economy of his island nation.

Participating in a video conference, called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, on steps to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, he thanked the Indian Prime Minister for taking the initiative of bringing SAARC countries on one page against the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"First I thank Prime Minister of India, Modi for organising this conference to share our experiences, ideas, and also the challenges we face and best practices and to discuss the measures to take to combat the disease of coronavirus."

He suggested that SAARC leaders should come up with a mechanism to help the economy of Sri Lanka as it was under major blow due to losses in tourism and exports.

"Our tourism industry was just recovering after last year's terrorist attack on April but is currently facing a major blow due to Covid-19 disease. Therefore We request SAARC leaders to come up with a policy to help our economies," he said.

"I strongly recommend for SAARC leaders to come together to form a mechanism to assist our economy to tide over this very difficult period.I also wish to recommend a SAARC Ministerial level group be established to discuss, share these practices and coordinate regional matters on combating coronavirus," he added.

About the measures taken by the Sri Lankan government in order to contain the disease, Rajapaksa said: "We have banned tourists and other people entering Sri Lanka, especially from affected countries."

The Sri Lankan President said that although large gatherings must be discouraged but elections in his country will be held as planned on April 25, and nominations will be filed from March 12 to March 19.

Sri Lanka evacuated at least 34 Sri Lankan compatriots from the disease outbreak epicentre Wuhan in China and 750 Sri Lankan student, studying in various universities in other provinces of China, Rajapaksa informed his counterparts during the video conferences.

The evacuees were advised for self quarantine for 14 days after returned. IANS

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