COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (22 November 2017) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is reaffirming its long-term partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka to continue helping the country achieve its development goals, ADB Vice-President Wencai Zhang said during an event in Colombo to celebrate 50 years of ties between ADB and Sri Lanka.
A publication, “Sri Lanka-ADB Partnership: 1966–2016,” was jointly launched at the event by Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister of Finance and Mass Media, and Mr. Zhang. The book traces the history of ADB’s projects in the country and how the organization has contributed in strengthening Sri Lanka’s economy. The book depicts the full range of Sri Lanka-ADB projects, including in agriculture, industry, infrastructure, and education, chronicling a significant part of the country’s development journey as it moves toward becoming an upper middle-income country.
“As one of the founding member countries, Sri Lanka played a pivotal role in ADB’s establishment in 1966,” said Mr. Zhang. ADB’s first loan to Sri Lanka was approved in 1968 to help modernize tea factories. Since then, ADB has been one of Sri Lanka’s largest development partners, providing more than $8.9 billion in loans, technical assistance, and grants as of October 2017.
Over the past 50 years, ADB has helped upgrade vital infrastructure, improve education and skills-based training, and prepare and implement reconstruction in conflict and tsunami-affected areas. ADB has also supported growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, development of agriculture and natural resources, and management of the public sector.
The book launch was organized by the ADB Sri Lanka Resident Mission, which also celebrates 20 years since its establishment in October 1997. Key ADB partners in Sri Lanka including government officials, private sector representatives, development partners, diplomatic community, and members of the media were in attendance.
During his visit, Mr. Zhang met with Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Finance and Mass Media and ADB Governor for Sri Lanka Mangala Samaraweera, and other key government officials, discussing the newly approved Country Partnership Strategy for 2018–2022. The first copies of the newly published Employment Diagnostic Study “Sri Lanka: Fostering Workforce Skills Through Education” were presented to the President and Minister of Finance and Mass Media during the bilateral meetings. This study examines labor market issues such as improving the economy’s skill base and challenges arising from an aging population, and offers solutions specific to Sri Lanka.
Mr. Zhang also witnessed the loan signing of two ADB-funded projects. Sri Widowati, Country Director, ADB, on behalf of ADB, and R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, signed the loan agreement for the Second Integrated Road Investment Program. Ms. Widowati and W.B. Ganegala, Chairman, and W.A. Gamini Wanasekara, Vice-Chairman, Ceylon Electricity Board, signed the loan agreement for the Wind Power Generation Project. Mr. Zhang will also visit Senanayake National School in Madampe, road projects in the Northern and North Central Provinces, and a desalination plant on Delft island, all supported by ADB-funded projects.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.