Following the ceremony at the Government House, the Governor General held a one to one discussion with the High Commissioner and expressed the hope that the two countries could build on the cordial relations. The Governor General noted that Sri Lanka was rich in the education sector and PNG has received a large number of Sri Lankan academics as well as teachers in the past.
The Governor General also highlighted the need to build on economic relations. High Commissioner Skandakumar offered Sri Lanka’s assistance in the education sector. Noting that free education and healthcare have been enjoyed by Sri Lankans throughout the country since independence, the High Commissioner highlighted that despite the protracted conflict, successive Governments have ensured that education and healthcare facilities were provided without disruption to all areas even during that period.
The High Commissioner also briefed the Governor General on other developments in Sri Lanka, and noted that both countries have suffered from the devastating effects of natural disasters in recent times due to extreme climatic conditions. High Commissioner Skandakumar conveyed Sri Lanka’s condolences and empathy with the people of Papua New Guinea on the devastation caused by the earthquake in March 2018 in the remote Highlands region.
The Governor General noted that sports is another potential area for future cooperation and given the High Commissioner’s own expertise in the game of cricket requested his assistance to help develop the game in Papua New Guinea where it is gaining popularity.
High Commissioner Skandakumar also called on Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Rimbink Pato, and Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Barbara Age. The High Commissioner requested Papua New Guinea to consider visa facilitation for Sri Lankan businesses and proposed to identify synergies through which the two countries could work towards improving trade and economic relations. Enhancing cooperation in tourism, agriculture, human resources development, SMEs, garments industry and interaction between business communities were other areas that were discussed.
High Commissioner Skandakumar invited the Foreign Minister to visit Sri Lanka when he is next in the region. The newly appointed Honorary Consul for Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka PNG Friendship Foundation hosted the High Commissioner to a welcome dinner where the High Commissioner was able to interact with the Sri Lankan community in Port Moresby. (Colombo Gazette)