Colombo: The Sri Lankan government has said it will soon announce its contribution to the SAARC Coronavirus Emergency Fund proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an initial offer of $10 million from India to help combat the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic in the region, according to a media report on Monday.
The government, however, did not specify the amount it will contribute to the fund. "We will announce the amount soon. The Cabinet has to do decide it," Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardane was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. Sri Lanka's willingness to contribute to the fund has been communicated to New Delhi, he said.
In a video conference on forming a joint strategy to fight COVID-19 in the SAARC region, Prime Minister Modi on March 15 proposed the emergency fund with an initial offer of $10 million from India and asserted that the best way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic was by coming together, and not growing apart.
Subsequently, Nepal and Afghanistan pledged US Dollar 1 million each, Maldives committed US Dollar 200,000, Bhutan US Dollar 100,000 and Bangladesh pledged $1.5 million to the fund. Pakistan is now the only country left to declare its contribution to the fund.
Founded in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Apart from Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister Oli, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza, had participated in the video conference.