Feb 04, Colombo: The World Bank reaffirmed its continued support to Sri Lanka’s growth and development for the benefit of all its people, as World Bank Vice President for South Asia, Hartwig Schafer concluded a four-day visit.
During his visit, Schafer gained a better understanding of the country’s development priorities under the new government and how the World Bank’s financial and knowledge resources can be deployed for maximum impact.
“Technology and innovations will drive Sri Lanka’s future growth,” said Schafer. “During my visit to Kandy and Kegalle districts, I observed how some innovative solutions in transport and water can improve the delivery of public services, and harness the private sector to boost the economy, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty.”
Schafer congratulated President Gotabaya Rajapakse on the recent elections victory and assured the World Bank’s continued support to realize Sri Lanka’s growth and development aspirations. He also met the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mahinda Rajapakse and senior government officials including the newly appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Prof. W.D. Lakshman and the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance, Sajith Attygalle.
“Sri Lanka is today an upper-middle-income country with some of the best human development indicators in South Asia. These are tremendous achievements that the World Bank is proud to have helped achieve as a trusted partner of over 60 years," said Schafer.
“We look forward to working closely with the government in the preparation of our new country strategy and our collaboration as development partners.”
During his visit, Schafer discussed some of the government’s key priorities, such as investments in human and physical capital, public sector reforms, creating skilled jobs for youth, and responding to the health needs of a rapidly aging population. He also commended the government’s focus on tourism as an engine of sustained growth. Promoting innovation in agriculture to adapt to climate change while developing systems of value addition to promote growth were also discussed.
Schafer traveled to Kegalle district to visit a World Bank-financed rural water treatment plant, which is the only such project in Sri Lanka that provides treated piped water to rural communities. He engaged with beneficiary communities who have committed to covering part of the infrastructure cost in return for better and reliable water services. Schafer also visited the site for the potential Kandy Multimodal Transport Terminal (KMTT) to learn how the facility can improve safety and reduce congestion.
The active International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) portfolio comprise of 18 projects in Sri Lanka (with a total net commitment of around US$ 2 billion).