SL economy on track, higher growth can be achieved - ADB | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

SL economy on track, higher growth can be achieved - ADB

ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang presents a copy of ADB’s new strategy, ‘Strategy 2030’ to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang presents a copy of ADB’s new strategy, ‘Strategy 2030’ to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lanka has the potential to go beyond an economic growth rate of 4 or 4.2 percent as its reform program is on track and the economy is supported by a strong private sector led growth, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Vice President Wencai Zhang told journalists during a media briefing on the Bank’s new long term corporate blueprint, ‘Strategy 2030’ for Asia and the Pacific region, in Colombo last week.

Zhang said four percent is still low. Sri Lanka has the potential. Notching four percent is not at all enough as the country could achieve a higher growth percentage due to many initiatives such as ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ launched by the government along with development moves to accelerate economic growth through an inclusive approach which will help trickle down the benefits of growth to all segments of society.

“However, Sri Lanka needs to look firmly at drivers of growth through private projects, investments and a vibrant export sector. Focusing on structural reforms and improving the ease of doing business from the current ranking will help the country to get to a better position in economic growth,” the ADB Vice President said. The Asian donor reaffirmed its strong commitment to support Sri Lanka’s continued development drive in keeping with its ‘Strategy 2030’ when its top officials met Prime Minister and other senior ministry officials in Colombo last week.

The bank expects to sign a total of US$ one billion in financing for nine projects in Sri Lanka this year and over the next three years ADB’s commitment will be $ three billion supporting development in areas such as ports, roads, secondary and higher education, electricity transmission and distribution, fisheries, irrigation, wastewater management, drinking water, sanitation and small and medium enterprises.

‘Strategy 2030’ which was approved by the ADB Board of Directors mid this year goes beyond ending poverty to promote prosperity, inclusiveness, resilience and sustainability in the Asia and the Pacific region.

“I am impressed by the vocational training education to youth in the country particularly in the South which I witnessed during my visit to the region during the week,’ Zhan said.

He also said he was pleased with training programs in the Uva and several other provinces.

However, the Bank’s delegation which was on a short visit to the country last week noted that prior to lending funds for new projects in Sri Lanka it evaluates the previous programs.

“ Sri Lanka honours its obligations for loans borrowed and overall the program implementation in Sri Lanka has been successful,” ADB Country Director Sri Widowati said.

When asked about the Bank’s role with the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Zhang said the Bank is always ready if need arises to support the BRI through co financing along with other multilateral and bilateral agencies.

Zhang said ADB will strengthen its country-focused approach to Sri Lanka, promote the use of innovative technologies, and deliver integrated interventions that combine expertise across a range of sectors and themes and through a mix of public and private sector operations.

According to the Bank Sri Lanka’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is expected to grow by 4.2 percent this year and 4.8 percent in 2019, inflation rate at 5.2 percent this year and 5 percent next year and per capita GDP to be at 3.2 percent in 2018 and 3.8 percent in 2019.

In its comparative economic forecast for Asia the Bank growth in India this year is expected to be at 7.3 percent, Bhutan at 7.1 percent, Bangladesh 7.0 percent, Maldives 6.7 percent, Pakistan 5.6 percent, Nepal 4.2 percent and Afghanistan 2.5 percent.

As at 31 July this year the Bank’s active project portfolio in Sri Lanka stands at 35 projects with a net loan amount of $3.9 billion.

During its stay the delegation visited ADB funded projects, including a Technical College in Mirijjawila, Southern Province, which offers vocational training courses in various skills including information communication technology, welding, carpentry, automobile mechanics, and landscaping.

Set up in 1966 the Bank comprises 67 members, 48 from the region. ADB’s operations last year totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co financing.