Outgoing World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Dr. Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough
- WB outgoing Country Director lists out SL pros and cons
- Praises resilience of Sri Lankans, country’s beauty and competence of WB team
- Calls for continued investment in human development indicators to counter COVID-19
- Creating fiscal space and managing debt important
Increasing fiscal space, managing debt and furthering competitiveness and trade will be among key challenges for Sri Lanka, outgoing World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough said in a statement, calling for continued investment in human development indicators to continue growth amidst COVID-19 challenges.
Pswarayi-Riddihough is currently wrapping up her term in Sri Lanka, and in a statement listing out the strengths, opportunities and challenges ahead for Sri Lanka, she was full of praise for the resilience of the people, the beauty of the country and her World Bank team. Speaking of the challenges that Sri Lanka will face in the coming decades, she pointed out that with a rapidly aging population and women living longer than men, there was need to re-evaluate the country’s social security and pension systems.
“Since the impacts of COVID-19 have led to a loss of overseas jobs – and hence lower remittances – replacement jobs that capitalise on the participation of both men and women will need to be rapidly created. Space will also need to be created to attract the private sector, which is the engine of growth in many emerging markets,” she said in a statement.
It will be equally important to address the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, including its impacts on the financial sector, particularly on SMEs which are the backbone of the country’s tourism and manufacturing industries, the Country Director added.
“Space will also need to be created to attract the private sector, which is the engine of growth in many emerging markets. It will be equally important to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, including its impacts on the financial sector, particularly on SMEs which are the backbone of the country’s tourism and manufacturing industries.”
Pswarayi-Riddihough praised Sri Lanka’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in her view has demonstrated the country’s capacity to manage a health emergency of severe magnitude.
“Despite the crisis, Sri Lanka managed to sustain its food security. With more investment, the agriculture sector can grow into a sizeable export industry, going beyond self-sufficiency in food.” Sri Lanka has done an amazing job with respect to developing its hydropower. Its next opportunity will lie in developing renewable energy, especially since technological advances have now made it possible to store solar energy in batteries for many hours.
“Sri Lanka has a high human capital index, the highest in South Asia. Continued investment in the country’s youth and upscaling the current labour force will increase the number of workers that have the ability to perform higher-order and more resilient jobs – including becoming entrepreneurs who create jobs for others.”
“A beautiful country with so much to offer, it is not surprising that Sri Lanka was nominated the best place to visit by the Lonely Planet magazine. Rebuilding the tourism industry post-COVID will ensure that the country once again enjoys this special honour,” she said. Pswarayi-Riddihough has been selected to be the next Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros. She will be based in Maputo.
“I would like to thank the people of Sri Lanka for their generous hospitality, as well as for their continued support and guidance during my four years here. I thank both the administrations I worked with and the many Government employees with whom I had the privilege to interact. I would also like to thank the many development partners with whom I shared a close partnership. And last but not the least, I extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to my own World Bank Group team based in Colombo.”
“The World Bank is an apolitical and non-partisan development institution with vast global knowledge and expertise that can be tapped easily for a nation’s development. It will continue to partner with the Government of Sri Lanka as it works for the wellbeing of the people and the country. Good luck Sri Lanka! You will remain in my thoughts!”