President visits ADB Headquarters : Sri Lanka and ADB sign agreements worth $ 455 m | Sunday Observer

President visits ADB Headquarters : Sri Lanka and ADB sign agreements worth $ 455 m

President Maithripala Sirisena and ADB President Takehico Nakao sign the agreements.
President Maithripala Sirisena and ADB President Takehico Nakao sign the agreements.

President Maithripala Sirisena made his first visit to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters on Thursday during a state visit to the Philippines and met ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

President Sirisena and Nakao discussed development challenges faced by Sri Lanka and the ADB’s role in helping address them, and signed three loan agreements worth $ 455 million for projects in higher education and transport and a technical assistance loan in the urban sector.

The ADB’s commitment to Sri Lanka, including these three loans, will be $ 815 million this year. ADB will maintain a strong pipeline of projects worth about $800 million a year in the current Country Partnership Strategy (CPS), 2018–2022, compared with $500 million a year in the previous CPS period.

“Sri Lanka highly values the assistance by the ADB to development plans of our country,” said President Sirisena. “The economic cooperation extended by the ADB is of extreme benefit to the countries grappling with development issues.”

Nakao commended Sri Lanka’s achievements in reducing poverty to low single digits and improving human development. Sri Lanka needs to seek higher growth to achieve the goal of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2025.

He acknowledged the government’s fiscal consolidation efforts, supported by an International Monetary Fund program that resulted in a primary surplus in 2018 for the first time in 63 years.

“The government has taken steps to strengthen the country’s public finances. It is essential to continue the measures to reduce debt,” Nakao said.

He commended the steps by the government to improve the business climate, increase exports, and attract foreign direct investment.

He stressed the need to continue the reforms to draw foreign investors to the country that can bring knowledge and new practices.

It is also important that Sri Lanka strengthens its linkage to regional and global value chains, Nakao said.

“The ADB’s technical and financial assistance to support the development of capital markets and small and medium enterprises are aligned with the government’s reform priorities,” said Nakao. The ADB’s CPS for Sri Lanka focuses on building high quality infrastructure in the transport, energy, and urban sectors by expanding investments in new areas, such as, railways, wind and solar power generation and economic corridors.

The ADB is also broadening its support for higher education and health centres. Projects in rural areas, such as, the Mahaweli Water Security Investment Program and the Integrated Road Investment Program, will support farming communities and help boost rural incomes. The ADB’s private sector operations will provide loans, equity investments, or guarantees for public and private banks, non-banking financial institutions and corporations.

The three loans signed last week are: (i) $145 million for a project to support develop science and technology faculties in four universities; (ii) $300 million to finance construction of about 5.3 kilometres of an elevated toll highway to link Colombo’s international port with the country’s expressway network; and (iii) a $10 million technical assistance loan to finance the establishment of a facility that will help improve the design and implementation of urban projects. 

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