COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - One year after a decades-old civil conflict ended in Sri Lanka, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said that a top priority of Sri Lanka's post-war development is to make sure that rapid reconstruction continues in the conflict-affected areas and the benefits of development reach everyone in the country.
Addressing a press conference Friday at the end of a three-day visit to the country, Mr. Kuroda said that ADB will continue to support Sri Lanka as it rebuilds its economy, and seeks accelerated development.
"Along with rapid reconstruction to enable people in conflict-affected areas to return to normal lives as soon as possible, post-war development should also focus on more inclusive and equitable growth," said Mr. Kuroda, who held discussions with Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa and senior government leaders during his visit.
Reconstruction of basic infrastructure and restoration of essential services such as water and sanitation, roads, hospitals and schools in the war-affected Northern and Eastern provinces will remain a priority area of ADB's assistance, Mr. Kuroda said.
With the end of the conflict, and based on ADB's forecast of 6% economic growth for Sri Lanka this year and at least 7% in 2011, Mr. Kuroda said that he was optimistic that the people of Sri Lanka can look forward to a more promising and secure future. Sri Lanka's civil conflict ended in May 2009.
Mr. Kuroda stressed that for peace to be sustainable, challenges need to be addressed. On the economy, inclusive growth and sustainable development need to be underpinned by sound macroeconomic fundamentals, firm efforts to keep the fiscal deficit under control, a strengthening of the financial sector and greater participation in the economy by the private sector.
Mr. Kuroda also expressed his deepest sympathy to the people and Government of Sri Lanka for the loss of lives, damage to homes and properties, and suffering caused by the recent floods in the country.
Mr. Kuroda visited various ADB-assisted projects in the North, including the launching ceremonies of the Dry Zone Urban Water and Sanitation project in Mannar and the Kilinochchi-Jaffna power transmission line. He visited the Mannar General Hospital and Kilinochchi Hospital where ADB supports reconstruction and upgrading of medical facilities. He also visited two flagship projects supported by ADB, the Colombo Port Expansion Project and the Southern Transport Development Project, Sri Lanka's first major expressway to be built since independence in 1948.
Earlier this year, ADB approved $150 million in emergency assistance loan to Sri Lanka for reconstruction of urgently needed infrastructure and restoration of essential services in war-affected regions. Another $50 million loan was also extended this year to support the Government's efforts to undertake public finance management reforms aimed at promoting increased investment in underdeveloped areas, including in areas severely affected by conflict.
ADB is one of the leading development partners in the country. ADB has approved over $212 million in loans to Sri Lanka so far this year.