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East catalyst for people-centred progress - WB

Eastern reconstruction help assured:

The current situation in the Eastern province will enable the implementation of development programmes in a manner that involves the people, World Bank Managing Director Graeme Wheeler said yesterday.

“The results on the ground should be shared equally by all ethnic groups. The Government is currently compiling a plan for the reconstruction of the East. I urge it to develop a plan that incorporates these characteristics,” Wheeler told a news briefing in Colombo.

He remarked that it was important to complete the transition to civilian control at the earliest opportunity, so that effective and sustainable development activities can be more successful.

He pledged the Bank’s assistance to efforts to reconstruct the East and other conflict-affected areas.

“The Asian region is likely to drive global economic growth for many years to come. The region also has a very young population. With sound economic management, and strong trade and investment linkages, Sri Lanka would be well positioned to be able to take advantage of this dynamism,” he said.

But there are major challenges. Inequality between the greater Colombo area and the rest of the country is increasing. In addition, Sri Lanka’s economic growth is slowing and it needs to addressed, he added.

“The North-East conflict remains a major obstacle for Sri Lanka to achieve its full potential and negotiations is the way out of this problem.”

Wheeler who earlier visited Vavuniya said the conflict is an enormous burden on both the Sri Lankan people and the country’s long-term economic propriety.

“It is vital to seek a political solution to the conflict as soon as possible. This is critical to achieve greater prosperity for all Sri Lankans.”

He noted that Sri Lanka was successful in entering the global capital market for the first time, raising US$ 500 million.

He was also encouraged to see that the Government’s partnership with the World Bank is providing not only physical reconstruction and assistance to conflict-affected communities, but also helping to repair the fragile social fabric that has been damaged by the conflict.

He cautioned that measures should also be taken to check the high inflation, the budget deficit and debt levels.

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