Wider Reach

Apr.06 (LBO) – Norway plans to step up financial assistance in Sri Lanka following a request by President Mahinda Rajapakse to raise its profile in the island, peace envoy Erik Solheim said Thursday. Solheim, who is also Norway’s International Development Minister, said that Oslo’s financial assistance to Sri Lanka has so far mainly centered on fisheries and livelihood development.

“The president (Rajapakse) asked us to raise our profile here, because Sri Lankans need to be aware that we can help them in many other ways besides brokering peace,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here.

Oslo’s financial assistance to Sri Lanka averages around US$30-35 million every year, but the amount was doubled to US$65 million last year for post-tsunami rebuilding activities.

“Nothing is finalized yet, but we may look at expanding into renewable energy programmes like dendro power,” Oslo’s Ambassador for Colombo Hans Brakkstar said adding that Norway currently helps finance some of the island’s hydro-electric plants.

-Mel Gunasekera: mel@vanguardlk.com