The World Bank yesterday said that Sri Lanka’s economy is on the road to recovery in the aftermath of worst downturn on record last year.
“The World Bank stands ready to support the Sri Lankan Government as it strives to protect its people from the pandemic, while addressing the vulnerabilities in the macro-fiscal environment,” said World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka Faris H. Hadad-Zervos on Sunday following a visit to Sri Lanka.
Faris H. Hadad-Zervos during his visit reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to support Sri Lanka’s efforts towards recovery and to build back better from the COVID-19 shock.
“Recovery and resilience in the post-COVID era can be accelerated by an export-oriented growth model that taps the full potential of private investments and that increases competitiveness and growth,” he said.
The World Bank has responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka by repurposing a large portion of its current portfolio to assist the Government in reducing the pandemic’s effects.
Two agreements have also been signed during Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos’s visit which included a US $ 53 million credit agreement for the improvement of dams and irrigation schemes covering 165,000 hectares of agricultural land and improving the management of watersheds and water resources, benefitting 356,000 farming families.
Under a second US$ 69.33 million loan, a modern transport terminal will be built in Kandy City that will integrate rail, bus, three-wheeler, and pedestrian traffic to make it safer and more efficient.
“Supplying critical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), providing temporary cash assistance to vulnerable groups, strengthening COVID-19 security mechanisms on public transportation, promoting tele-education for students, and providing technologies to enhance public service delivery are some of the initiatives supported by the World Bank. Further support in managing the situation, especially through a speedy and efficient vaccination program, is also on the table.”
The current World Bank portfolio in Sri Lanka consists of 19 ongoing projects, with a total commitment value of US$ 2.33 billion in a variety of sectors including transport, urban, agriculture, water, education and health.
The visit coincided with the launch of the Sri Lanka Development Update: Economic and Poverty Impact of COVID-19, which was released on April 9. The report provides an update on Sri Lanka’s economy and outlook, highlighting the devastating impact of the pandemic. Sri Lanka’s economy contracted by 3.6 percent in 2020, the worst growth performance on record, as is the case in many countries fighting the pandemic, but is expected to recover to 3.4 percent in 2021, mainly due to foreign investments as well as normalizing tourism and other economic activities. ,
During the visit, the World Bank management team met with key government officials, including Ministers Ramesh Pathirana, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Johnston Fernando, State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Chairman of the Special Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Treasury Ajith Attygalle, Secretary at the Ministry of Technology Jayantha De Silva, Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga, and the Governor of the Central Bank Prof. W. D. Lakshman.
Meetings were also held with private sector representatives, development partners as well as thought leaders to better understand how the World Bank can add value to Sri Lanka’s inclusive growth and sustainable development.