Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today met with Sri Lanka s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as well as several ministers and senior officials, to discuss global, regional and bilateral issues, including challenges and opportunities for the Sri Lankan economy over the short to medium term. Yesterday, President Nakao spoke at the Academy of Financial Studies. Tomorrow, he will visit several ADB-supported projects across the country.
At the meeting with President Rajapaksa, Mr Nakao commended the country s strong economic growth, as well as its ongoing efforts to lift the country into upper middle income status.
This is my first visit to Sri Lanka a country with a rich cultural heritage and abundant natural resources, a country in the middle of an exciting, historic transformation, Mr. Nakao said in his speech yesterday at the Academy of Financial Studies. In my view, Sri Lanka is on the path to becoming another Asian economic success story.
ADB forecasts that the Sri Lankan economy will expand 7.5% both this year and next, one of the fastest growth rates in the region. That would follow a 7.3% expansion registered in 2013. Mr. Nakao mentioned what is especially striking is that economic activity in the post-conflict Northern and Eastern provinces expanded almost twice as fast as in the rest of the country. This is a remarkable sign of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation. Going forward in order to sustain growth, President Nakao stressed the importance of maintaining 1) sound macroeconomic policy including the reform of state-owned enterprises; 2) strong investment in physical infrastructure by promoting public-private partnerships to mobilize private sector resources as well as implementing investment by the government itself backed by its own resources and supported by international partners including ADB; 3) investing in skills development through technical and vocational training; 4) improving investment climate and facilitating private sector development; 5) pursuing inclusive growth by prioritizing regions and sectors currently lagging behind; and 6) having clear strategy for development and sharing it with the people. President Nakao indicated that ADB will place greater emphasis on human resource development such as education and skills training, while maintaining a focus on infrastructure and private sector development. Sri Lanka joined ADB as a founding member in 1966. As at the end of 2013, ADB had approved 176 in government and nongovernment loans totaling $6.17 billion for Sri Lanka. In addition, ADB has provided $358 million in grant assistance (including ADB-administered, cofinanced grants) for projects, and $122.8 million in 259 technical assistance grants.