Colombo, September 18, 2015 — During her recent visit to Colombo, the World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Annette Dixon, remarked that policy change is critical to accelerating poverty reduction and boosting shared prosperity in Sri Lanka. The Vice President noted the potential to achieve higher levels of inclusive and sustainable growth inSri Lanka and renewed the World Bank Group’s (WBG) commitment to partner with the new government in implementing its policy reform agenda.
In Dixon’s meetings with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, she shared the findings of the WBG’s recently concluded diagnostic. This exercise identified the most critical constraints and opportunities for reducing poverty and fostering income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population of Sri Lanka.
President Maithripala Sirisena outlined his priorities for Sri Lanka’s development and discussed his vision for preserving the environment. The Prime Minister underscored his vision for a more competitive Sri Lanka in which human capital development will play a significant role.
“This is a crucial moment in Sri Lanka’s history to make a transformational change by fostering more inclusive, private sector-led growth and rebalancing public and private interests” said Dixon. “Such a vision will need to be accompanied by transformational government-led reforms and pro-active macro-economic management. I was pleased to learn of the Government’s early intentions and to explore ways to calibrate our support.”
There was a strong appreciation on both sides of the alignment between the government’s development priorities and the WBG’s twin goals. As a next step, WBG and the government will jointly define the medium term strategy for future engagement.
The World Bank’s total net commitments in Sri Lanka stand at $1.5 billion. Currently the Bank is active in thirteen projects throughout the country. The partnership in Sri Lanka which spans sixty years has been focused on bringing global best practices to the country and providing technical assistance and knowledge services to improve the quality of life of the people.
The World Bank Group’s private sector development arm, IFC, focuses on access to finance, infrastructure, tourism, and agribusiness, prioritizing balanced regional growth. As of August 2015, IFC’s total committed investment portfolio stood at $420 million, including $140 million mobilized from partner institutions.