By Deepal V. Perera
As Sri Lanka continues to enjoy peace dividends following the 30 year war, domestically as well as internationally, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced that it would double its work in Sri Lanka in next 18 months taking into consideration the country’s positive outlook after many years of struggle.
The newly appointed Director South Asia IFC Thomas S. Davenport told Daily FT that IFC seeks an important role in development of the country’s infrastructure and providing expert advice to help the public and private sector in their development efforts.
“We consider Sri Lanka as an important market and we are looking forward to participate in developing areas such as the infrastructure, renewable energy, logistics sector, agro business and tourism industry. In terms participating in these development activities we stand ready to work with the government of Sri Lanka,” he said.
Devenport further said that the currently Sri Lankan economic growth is predicted to be around 8.5% and there is a strong possibility of Sri Lanka achieving a double digit growth boosted by strong regional economic performance.
Commenting on its support for Sri Lanka in the past, the outgoing South Asia Director Paolo M. Martelli, said that the IFC was heavily involved in helping the Sri Lankan private sector a lot.
He pointed out that during the past years the IFC was directly involved in funding the country’s infrastructure development activities spanning into many sectors under the private -public partnership projects
“Our past work in Sri Lanka included investments in ports, telecommunications, renewable energy, health care and the financial sector in addition to advising and supporting the country’s small and medium sized businesses,” said Martelli. He said he had been instrumental in bringing strategic focus to the post-conflict and fragile parts of South Asia during his term.
Since 1998, IFC has been offering its services to Sri Lanka, both as a financier to develop and implement private sector projects and also as an advisor to small and medium enterprises to improve their ability to access finance and markets and operate more efficiently.
Paolo M. Martelli, who completed his three and a half year term as South Asia Director mid-September this year, accompanied Davenport on this visit. He is due to move back to Washington DC in his new role as IFC Director for Latin America and Caribbean.
Based in India since September last year, Davenport was leading IFC’s investment and advisory work in India’s low income states in addition to heading IFC’s New Delhi office before taking on his new role as Director for South Asia. He brings his vast experience of working in different parts of the world including Africa, East Asia, Middle East and South Asia.
While sharing IFC’s experience in working across developing, post-conflict and fragile economies worldwide, Davenport stressed IFC’s strategic focus on promoting inclusive growth, addressing climate change impacts, and facilitating global integration through enhanced trade in South Asia. He emphasised IFC’s ability to work closely with the government and private sector to take on a more active role in the country’s economic growth.
The two officials along with India based IFC Regional Manager, Per Kjellerhaug, who also oversees activities relating to Sri Lanka met senior government officers and key private sector chiefs during their visit to discuss ways to advance the country’s development and growth.
In Sri Lanka, IFC’s committed portfolio is over $116 million and spans across a range of sectors including infrastructure, tourism, renewable energy, banking, and healthcare in addition to advisory support to small and medium enterprises. Through its Advisory Services, IFC promotes sustainable growth among small and medium enterprises by facilitating access to finance and offering capacity building and training opportunities.
Pic by Upul Abayasekara