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Sri Lanka Could Be the 'Wonder of Asia': World Bank
Source: www.sundaytimes.lkwww.sundaytimes.lk
Source Date: Sunday, December 26, 2010
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: Sri Lanka
Created: Dec 28, 2010

The World Bank is predicting better economic prospects for Sri Lanka in the near future with the economy growing at around 7 %.These comments were made by World Bank Managing Director Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to journalists in Colombo on Saturday just before her departure after concluding a 2-day official visit to Sri Lanka. However she emphasized the need to bring down the fiscal deficit and inflation and maintain economic stability to gain economic growth. "Sri Lanka has what it takes to be the 'Wonder of Asia' through inclusive growth acceleration… implementing policies that promote the inclusion of all segments of society in the growth process, as envisaged in the Mahinda Chintana, which would be crucial. Sri Lanka has won the war, now it must win the peace" she added. Raising investments, improving productivity of those investments through innovation policies, skills development and macroeconomic stability will be important in getting there, she said. She reaffirmed the World Bank's strong and expanding support to Sri Lanka as it transitions towards a middle-income country in lasting peace and noted the country's potential in realizing its development goals. Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala noted that she studied the progress of development projects assisted by the World Bank, the trend of national economic policy, and met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal and other key persons in the banking, finance and development sectors, during her stay in the island. She pointed out that the end of the conflict offers enormous growth potential for Sri Lanka including in exportable services. "I see tremendous opportunities in the tourism sector, especially linking up with the health sector to provide health and fitness tourism" she said. She stressed the need to clear the infrastructure bottlenecks and develop skills to face future challenges. Sri Lanka has the potential to build its manufacturing base in low and high value exports, she added. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala noted that maintaining macro economic stability is important for growth. The World Bank Managing Director said she met with people who have benefited from World Bank assisted projects in the Eastern Province, and received first hand accounts of how these projects are achieving the twin goals of inclusive development and enhanced economic growth. She affirmed the World Bank's continued assistance in helping Sri Lanka realize its development goals and highlighted the importance of investment, innovation, inclusive development, and knowledge sharing. "The expansion of the knowledge economy and the search for innovative ideas by all Sri Lankans will be important to successfully accelerate growth and improve living standards," she said.
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