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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

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WB: thumbs up for Lanka

* Keen to play proactive role

* SL can unleash economic potential to fullest

World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the multilateral donor was happy with Sri Lanka’s recent progress. “It is very encouraging to see high growth in Sri Lanka, especially following the end of the war. However, the challenge for Sri Lanka is to sustain this impressive performance over the medium to long term and reduce inequality among provinces and income groups,” the WB Managing Director said.

“High growth doesn’t mean there are no problems,” she said. “No country has the luxury to be complacent.”

Continued reforms in the areas of fiscal policy and public sector leading to a lower Budget deficit,

lower public debt, and improved efficiency as well as a conducive environment for a greater role for a higher quality and competitive private sector would help Sri Lanka’s forward march, she told journalists.

Better productivity and improved quality of human resource and skills level were also cited as important.

While noting that there has been a good increase in public investment, she said Sri Lanka must attract greater inflow of foreign capital if the country is keen to sustain high growth.

A credible framework is important to make Sri Lanka’s economic potential ‘the pull factor’ given its natural resources, strategic hub location, and quality of its people, Indrawati said.

“We are encouraged by the fact that the Mahinda Chinthana policy document addresses these challenges and structural issues. If resolved, Sri Lanka can unleash the economy’s potential to its fullest,” the World Bank MD said. The improvement by Sri Lanka in the World Bank-International Finance Corporation compiled Ease of Doing Business was commended by Indrawati and further progress will ensure the quality of the private sector, both local and foreign, being improved, leading to higher investments.

“Improving quality of the private sector and attracting good foreign capital have a wider beneficial impact on the economy with better technology and best practices,” she added. “Having a low tax rate is good but governments must ensure there is transparency and clarity with regard to computation,” she said, adding that a regime that ensures consistency and stability in policies is more favoured by local and foreign investors.

With regard to infrastructure development thrust by the government especially in the north, she said: “Well-designed infrastructure will attract the right investment. This, along with engaging the community in the area, will ensure new infrastructure has a greater benefit to uplift the livelihood of the people. Given the resource constrains faced by governments, opening up infrastructure development for the private sector under Public-Private Partnerships is also important.”

The World Bank MD said Sri Lanka as a progressive nation could learn from its own historical experiences as to what policies have worked right and what haven’t, as well as of other countries, and choose the best.

“As a partner for future development, the World Bank is keen to play a proactive role with financing and policy advocacy,” said Indrawati.

Courtesy: priu.gov.lk

 

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