Speeches & Transcripts

Opening Remarks: E-GP in South Asia – Achievements, Opportunities and Challenges

February 20, 2017

Dr. Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, WB Country Director, Sri Lanka and Maldives SOUTH ASIA REGION PUBLIC PROCUREMENT CONFERENCE Colombo, Sri Lanka

As Prepared for Delivery

Your Excellency, President Maithripala Sirisena, Honorable Minister of Finance, Mr. Ravi Karunanayake, our partners in development, delegates to the conference, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First and foremost, I would like to thank His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka and the Honorable Minister of Finance for gracing this occasion. This is a clear signal of the Government’s commitment to good governance.

Sri Lanka in recent times has taken many positive steps towards ensuring principles of good governance.  Of particular relevance to this conference is the decision, under the 19th constitutional amendment, to establish the National Procurement Commission (NPC) which is one of 10 Independent Commissions.  Earlier this month, Sri Lanka implemented the much awaited Right to Information Act with a commitment to ensure transparency and accountability to its citizens. The President of Sri Lanka was a key speaker at its launch just this last week.

In the speech, the President talks of the importance of information, as well as the power that comes with it and cautions that it must be used with responsibility to build trust in public officials, politicians and the civil society. Information has the potential to be used as a relationship building tool for effective development outcomes.

Transparency is a big dividend in procurement. There is no doubt that strong institutions committed to principles of integrity, efficiency and professionalism are essential for economic growth and development.

The presence at this conference of high-level officials from the Government of Sri Lanka and the commendable initiatives they have taken to establish eGovernment further underscore their commitment to this important initiative.

e-Government Procurement makes public procurement more strategic and serves as an effective innovation to institute procurement reforms with greater performance in terms of efficiency, transparency, competition, fairness and value for money.  It also provides a wealth of information to decision makers, the private sector and citizens alike, on the performance of public procurement.

At the World Bank, we are committed to procurement reforms with a view to improving market efficiency and better service delivery. It is well understood, and illustratable with examples from many parts of the world, that weak procurement systems steer investments away from development and hence minimize the impact on poverty reduction and shared prosperity.  Moreover, in a fast changing world, modern and efficient procurement systems are key contributors to efficient delivery of services to citizens, our ultimate stakeholders. The World Bank itself has made far-reaching changes in its procurement regime and our New Procurement Framework is geared to provide more flexibility, choices and strategic approaches to the procurement of goods, works and services for our clients.

Today, we inaugurate this conference, which is the fourth in the series, aimed at building a community of practice committed to procurement reforms in the South Asia Region.  The event is sponsored and facilitated by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. 

The heads of public procurement entities of South Asian countries have been interacting with each other bilaterally and multilaterally for knowledge and experience sharing.  By bringing together these policy and decision makers, as well as other key stakeholders from various countries through a conference such as this, knowledge and experiences can be exchanged more broadly while allowing for networking in real time. 

The Bank is very happy and honored to be supporting this event.  On behalf of the World Bank, I wish the participants an insightful knowledge exchange with counterparts.  Everyone knows that learning is enhanced when we learn with and from our peers; and so I encourage you to meet and talk with as many people as you can during this event.  For those who have travelled to Sri Lanka, please do take time to enjoy this amazingly beautiful country.