Collective efforts can resolve economic crisis - Environment Minister | Sunday Observer

Collective efforts can resolve economic crisis - Environment Minister

29 May, 2022

Minister of Environment Hafiz Naseer Ahamed who assumed duties on Tuesday is hopeful that the current economic crisis could be resolved with the collective efforts of all political parties in Parliament. Minister Ahamed told the Sunday Observer yesterday that the Government has formed an All-Party member Cabinet which could resolve the country’s problems collectively.

“National problems cannot be solved separately by parties, now, we have come together to overcome the economic crisis. I am hopeful that this unity in diversity with a Cabinet formed with all parties will work for the greater good of the nation and it would come out with a package of relief measures for the people.”

“Our cooperation with the Middle Eastern countries needs to be improved,” said Ahamed, an engineering graduate of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia.

He said countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman and some other countries have diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.

“Saudi Arabia has been helping us in good and bad times. Its Saudi Development Fund has given over $650 million to Sri Lanka by way of grants and loans to build infrastructure facilities from 1985. The National Trauma hospital in Colombo and the Kinniya bridge were built using funds offered by Saudi Arabia.

The Minister said that his immediate priority is to speak to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf to request for a long-term credit line to buy crude oil, gas and aviation fuel to tide over the present crisis.

“We are prepared to give needed collateral for such facilities,” he said adding, “We also invite Saudi Arabia to be partners in strategic investments in the fields of Information Technology, agriculture, real estate to suit their requirements.”

He said that the countries in the Middle East are also important because it is home for Sri Lankan migrant workers. “Around one million of the 1.5 migrant workers are in the region and they bring home the largest percentage of the US$ 7 billion remitted to our national coffers.”

He said the country needs to send more skilled workers to these countries to earn foreign exchange.

“Since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, the Kingdom has taken steps to scale up its climate action and environmental protection,” the Minister said, adding that under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Green Initiative now takes efforts to go to the next level by unifying all sustainability efforts in the Kingdom to increase reliance on clean energy, offset the impact of fossil fuels and combat climate change.

“Now, that I have given the Ministry of Environment, we will explore how best Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka can cooperate with each other in the implementation of the Saudi Green Initiatives,” he said.