The visiting Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Director General for South Asia Kenichi Yokoyama held discussions with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena today (Sept 12) at the Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo. He has assured ADB’s support for the country’s development and its efforts to overcome economic and fiscal challenges.
Prime Minister briefed him about the steps taken by the government to revive the economy and requested the ADB to extend support to the programmes aimed at protecting the vulnerable groups of the society and rural agricultural development plans to increase production and increase export of surplus.
Mr Yokoyama said that the ADB’s $200 million emergency assistance loan and a $3 million grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific (JFPR) would ensure access to food and protect livelihoods for the poor and the vulnerable, especially women and children. Sri Lanka entered into an agreement with ADB last week to obtain these loan funds repurposed from the ongoing ADB portfolio.
ADB Director General said the ADB was concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka as the global economic downturn followed by the Covid pandemic has created a difficult environment for the country with the loss of livelihoods, especially among those working in small- and medium-sized enterprises, tourism, and in the informal economy.
The ADB supported project will provide crucial support to the government in extending assistance to vulnerable groups and restoring the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable, including farmers.
ADB Country Director Chen Chen said this loan forms part of ADB’s emergency response package to the multifaceted challenges facing Sri Lanka. ADB has been addressing immediate needs, such as essential medical supplies, materials for water treatment, and working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises by reallocating surplus loan
proceeds from ongoing loans. Moving forward, ADB will continue to work closely with development partners to support Sri Lanka’s recovery from the economic crisis, he said.
The Prime Minister raised the issue of the ADB funded ongoing projects on ’Puranegama’ Government Enhancement Sector Project for water supply, development of local government infrastructure and policy reforms and ADB Director General said he would consider the possibility of further assistance to complete the project.
Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake and Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Priyantha Mayadunne and ADB Deputy Country Director Utsav Kumar were also present at the discussion.