World Bank President Ajay Banga commended Sri Lanka’s commitment to reforms, emphasizing the importance of credibility in the country’s approach.
He also praised Sri Lanka’s focus on tourism, highlighting its job creation potential. He mentioned discussions about ports and trade and offered assistance in digitization, renewable energy and education. Banga also mentioned potential collaboration on power grid connectivity with India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
He also commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s vision, particularly his focus on job creation for the younger generation and improving quality of life. He assured the World Bank’s commitment to supporting these goals in alignment with Sri Lanka’s plans. This was subsequent to the Sri Lanka Delegation, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, engaged in high-level discussions with World Bank President Ajay Banga and other World Bank officials at the World Bank Headquarters (UNHQ) on Monday.
The meeting cantered on a range of critical topics, including economic reforms, agriculture, tourism, and digitization.
“I know ADB is there working with you, but you should know we are there if you need us.”
The conversation further explored the significance of digitization, with Banga emphasizing transparency and trust-building through digitization of governance. He also suggested the adoption of a school system digitization model he witnessed in India. President Wickremesinghe expressed gratitude for the vital financial support provided by the World Bank during challenging times, stating, “The money was available at least for the basics and that helped us tide through the most difficult months. Now it’s a matter of finalizing the debt restructuring and moving on from there.”
He emphasized the need for fast and sustained economic growth. Regarding economic sectors, President Wickremesinghe highlighted the immediate focus on tourism, food security and agricultural modernization.
“So now we are planning it and first the total package of economic reforms that have to be done. We will not have this window of opportunity. So we will drive that as far as possible. And then focus immediately on the different sectors. We are starting with tourism, which is the lowest hanging fruit. Then, food security and agricultural modernization and thereafter, we will be going into the other areas, the traditional exports. Agriculture would mean modernization and the whole gamut of things.”
President Wickremesinghe expressed his desire for additional technological universities and renewable energy development, which would significantly impact the northern region of Sri Lanka. President Wickremesinghe elaborated on the expansion of Colombo’s port and the benefits of transhipment, creating a significant cargo hub. He discussed the potential for industrialization in South India and Sri Lanka’s plans to phase out certain subsidies while providing grants to universities and students.
President Wickremesinghe also invited World Bank President Ajay Banga to visit Sri Lanka to which he responded positively. The meeting between President Wickremesinghe and World Bank President Banga underscored the importance of collaboration and reforms for Sri Lanka’s economic growth and development.