A vote of confidence
by the World Bank of a lending package of US$ 900 million under
the Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) is certainly a thumbs-up
for the Government in the context of the gloomy economic picture
painted by various cassandras who were predicting looming
sanctions in the coming days.
It is also a confidence vote in Sri Lanka despite the smear
campaign carried out by various elements to blacken the image of
That it is linked to the Government’s 10 year development
plan under the Mahinda Chintanaya is also significant and could
be considered as a stamp of approval on the development
blueprint of the Government and also the positive social indices
that influence aid.
The CAS has identified a wide gamut of areas for targeting
such as rehabilitation of roads and irrigation networks, water
supply, improving education, health and social safety nets and
The CAS plan covering the period 2008 to 2011 also seeks to
improve the investment climate and competitiveness to encourage
private sector investments and growth.
According to our main story in Saturday’s edition what is
envisaged is a broad development thrust with particular emphasis
on equitable development.
This gesture on the part of World Bank which had been
portrayed as being unfriendly to Sri Lanka by vested interests
is clearly an endorsement of the economic path pursued by the
Government. It has also exploded the theory floated by certain
elements that the ongoing military operations had hampered the
aid flow to the country.
The alleged human rights violations heaped on the Government
too had apparently not made an impression on the WB.
It is upto to the Government now to make best use of this
largesse to forge ahead with its development plans. It should
leave no room for waste and ensure the targets are attained
within the specific time frame to bring expeditious benefits to
It is hoped that this action by the World Bank will prove a
catalyst for more aid flowing to the country and influence the
EU to renew the GSP Plus facility to Sri Lanka that would ensure
social stability vital for attaining our development goals.
SAARC unity through sport
The large army of
Maldivian football fans who thronged the Sugathadasa Stadium on
Saturday to cheer their country in the final against India has
once against demonstrated the power of sports as a vehicle of
interaction between peoples. It could also be a harbinger to
more visits from our SAARC neighbours for sporting events in Sri
Lanka and also reciprocal visits by Lankans to SAARC countries.
This while building brotherhood and good neighbourly
relations could also go a long way in promoting fraternity and
goodwill among the SAARC family.
The presence of President Mohammed Gayoom among the fans
presented a picture of fellowship and camaraderie by a Head of
State and his subjects which would not have been imagined in any
other human endeavour save a sporting event.
Coming as it did on the eve of the SAARC summit to be hosted
by Sri Lanka this promotion of brotherhood through sports we
hope will engage the attention of leaders during their lengthy
deliberations. The power of sports to pull down all walls of
restrictions is only too well known to need elaboration.
So far all the resolutions made and vows taken to bring the
SAARC family together have not made much headway other in the
fields of trade and commerce. This hope could not have found
better expression in the wild scenes and joy witnessed among the
football fans of a SAARC country as witnessed on Saturday in
another SAARC country.
SAARC leaders who will meet in Colombo in August should try
the avenue of sports to get their people to interact more freely
so that a lasting bond among the SAARC family could be forged.
It is hoped that upcoming summit would focus more on ways and
means unifying people of the SAARC region by promoting more
interaction. Such unity would lead to the strengthening of SAARC
and make it a unifying force on the global stage.