COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (6 October 2021) — The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Director General for South Asia Kenichi Yokoyama yesterday met with Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to express ADB’s support for the country’s development and its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination drive.
“The pandemic created a difficult environment for the country with the loss of lives and livelihoods, especially among those working in small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism, and in the informal economy,” said Mr. Yokoyama. “Sri Lanka has made remarkable progress on expanding vaccination, and this will reduce negative impacts of the pandemic and support a faster return to more normal economic activity.”
Sri Lanka imported more than $150 million worth of vaccines with support from ADB’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program. The program also helped the country import medical equipment and personal protective equipment during the early part of the pandemic.
During his 10-day visit to Sri Lanka, Mr. Yokoyama also met with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. They participated in a virtual groundbreaking ceremony for the Jaffna Sea Water Desalination Plant, which was supported by a $210 million ADB loan and will provide safe drinking water to 300,000 people living on the Jaffna peninsula and nearby islands.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Government of Sri Lanka and ADB for the 55th Annual Meeting of ADB's Board of Governors was signed in Colombo on 29 September by Secretary, Ministry of Finance, and ADB Alternate Governor for Sri Lanka S. R. Attygalle and Mr. Yokoyama. Finance Minister and ADB Governor for Sri Lanka Basil Rajapaksa was present during the occasion. ADB Secretary Muhammad Ehsan Khan joined virtually from Manila. The Annual Meeting is scheduled to take place in Colombo from 2 to 5 May 2022.
Mr. Yokoyama will visit several ADB-funded projects in the coming days, including the Wind Power Generation Project in Mannar, which is Sri Lanka’s first large-scale renewable energy plant; the Port Access Elevated Highway Project, which provides a direct link to the port of Colombo from the expressway network; and the Mahaweli Water Security Investment Program, which aims to improve access to water resources for agricultural and non-agricultural purposes in the North Central, Central, North Western, and Eastern Provinces. He will also visit the ADB-supported molecular polymerase chain reaction laboratory at the Colombo East Base Hospital established in 2020 to strengthen Sri Lanka’s health response against COVID-19.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.