US lawmakers oppose 92 percent cut in aid to Sri Lanka

Citing the geographical and strategic location of Sri Lanka, a US Senate committee has opposed Trump Administration’s proposal of a drastic 92 percent cut in American aid to the country.

“Given the geostrategic importance of the country, the Committee does not support the President’s budget request for Sri Lanka, which proposed a 92 percent reduction in assistance from the prior fiscal year,” the Senate Appropriations Committee said in a report passing the annual State appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2018, beginning October 1. The appropriations bill, which landed on the Senate floor yesterday for consideration, seeks USD 43 million for Sri Lanka. This includes USD 35 million as economic support fund, USD 6.8 million for non-proliferation and anti-terrorism and USD 500,000 in foreign military financing and an equal amount for training of military personnel. “The Committee recognises and supports the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to advance democracy and the rule of law, and encourages further steps to address the causes of the armed conflict by promoting justice and reconciliation,” the Senate Committee said in its report.

The Senate committee said that Sri Lanka is strategically positioned along key shipping lanes and emerging from decades of conflict.

The House Appropriations Committee has also passed its Foreign Appropriations Bill, but defers from that of its Senate Bill on Sri Lanka. Last week, during a Congressional hearing, lawmakers had expressed concern over massive cut in US aid to Sri Lanka. “In Sri Lanka, US foreign assistance will be cut by 92 percent, mostly from accounts that have supported programmes to promote the rule of law, democratic reforms, post-war reconciliation and related efforts,” rued Congressman Ted Yoho, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Sub Committee on Asia and the Pacific.

“These programmes are cost-effective ways to contribute to Sri Lanka’s transformation, while pursuing a partnership and strategic lead critical locations,” he said.

“Even at their height in 2016, US assistance commitments to Sri Lanka were about 42.5 million. PTI 

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