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24 February, 2016 09:04 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka
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The visiting Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao yesterday expressed optimism over Sri Lanka’s future prospects on the strength of good governance, strategic geographic location and progressive policies but cautioned the country needs to tackle the high Budget deficit and reforms to bolster rapid socio-economic development.

“Sri Lanka has great potential to become an upper middle income country soon,” Nakao told journalists yesterday after one on one meetings with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

In all those meetings as well as at the media briefing, the ADB Chief on a two-day tour, expressed the multilateral donor agency’s strong commitment to support Sri Lanka’s continued development both financial and technical, given the improved country profile and prospect especially since the election of new Government in January last year. Nakao praised the new government’s emphasis on lead-pic-2-ADB-President-Takehiko-called-on-the-Presidentgood governance, inclusive growth, and private sector development, all of which mirror’s ADB’s own principles championed among 67 members, 48 from the Asian region and also key to generate more economic growth and attract higher foreign direct investments.

“We are prepared to lend more and upgrade our support to meet the evolving needs of Sri Lanka,” said the ADB Chief adding that the strong financing pipeline for 2016-2018 will be increased by 33% to $ 2 billion or on average around $ 700 million per annum from $ 500 million previously or $ 1.5 billion in the past three years.

Until recently, ADB has focused on improving basic infrastructure, such as national and provincial roads, electricity transmission lines, and urban and rural water supplies. In the coming 3 years, ADB assistance will be further expanded to support higher-quality transformative infrastructure, including expressways, railway upgrades, wind power generation and building economic corridors to accelerate industrialisation as well as capital market development. 

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