ADB pledges 1b sovereign assistance package for SL | Sunday Observer

ADB pledges 1b sovereign assistance package for SL

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will double its sovereign assistance during 2018-2022 in an effort to support Sri Lanka’s transition to upper middle-income country (UMIC) status.

“ADB proposes to double its sovereign assistance to $ 800 million-$1 billion per year during 2018-2022,” Vice-President (Operations 1) of ADB, Wencai Zhang told the Sunday Observer from Manila.

He said through its new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), ADB aims to respond flexibly to the evolving demands of the government.

“Hence, ADB will continue to invest in programs and projects in sectors where we have strong operational experience while exploring new areas that will put the country further towards reaching UMIC status,” he said in an interview.

Zhang will be in Sri Lanka this week as part of an official tour. During his stay in Sri Lanka he will join Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to launch a publication titled Sri Lanka-ADB Partnership: 1966–2016, which highlights selected ADB-funded projects in the country over the past five decades and ADB’s enduring development partnership. He is also due to meet President Maithripala Sirisena and several other officials during this mission.

ADB’s new CPS for 2018–2022 in Sri Lanka will focus on two pillars.

“Pillar 1 seeks to strengthen the drivers of growth by expanding provision of growth-oriented infrastructure (in the transport, energy and urban sectors) and logistics; developing economic corridors; upgrading human capital. ADB will expand its operations into new areas such as development of railways, wind and solar power generation, integrated urban development and higher education as country needs evolve.

“Pillar 2 aims to improve the quality of growth by promoting inclusiveness through strengthening agriculture infrastructure and commercialization; improving rural connectivity; improving public service delivery, and expanding SME access to finance,” Zhang further said.

Thematic priorities include promoting private sector development and public–private partnership (PPP); strengthening environment, climate change, and disaster risk management; and promoting gender equality.

Speaking on the future economic growth Zhang said, Sri Lanka needs to maintain growth momentum to advance its status as a UMIC. “Our interventions will contribute to the government’s key development goals of job creation, enhance income level, and develop rural economy. During the CPS period, the ADB interventions will be adjusted flexibly within the proposed strategy, in line with the government’s evolving priorities and circumstances.”