$ 331.5 m boost for Govt. from World Bank

Monday, 15 September 2014 00:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Deals signed $ 147 m for Strategic Cities Development Agenda; $ 101.5 m for Skills Sector Development Program and $ 83 m for Water Resources Planning Activities extension project
Key development projects of the Government have got a fresh boost, with the World Bank (WB) agreeing to extend a staggering $ 331.5 million financing support. The funds will be used to support the Government’s Skills Sector Development Program, Water Resources Planning Activities which includes Dam Safety and Strategic Cities Development, the Ministry of Finance said. The Financing Agreements on these programs were signed last Friday by Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera on behalf of the Government, and WB Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives Francoise Clottes, on behalf of the agency. To support the implementation of the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP) 2014-2020 themed ‘Towards Employable Skills for Everyone,’ the International Development Association (IDA) of the WB has agreed to finance $ 101.5 million (apart from $ 100 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The SSDP aims at provide the overarching strategic framework for building an efficient skills development system by 2020 that can meet local and foreign labour market demand.  The total investment estimated by the Government for the project was $ 980 million (Rs. 127,000 million). The funds will be integrated with the Annual Budget of the Government from 2014- 2018. The financing of $ 101.5 million (Rs. 13,195 million) from the WB is targeted to help at least 825,000 youths to get the chance to enrol in public and private vocational training institutions to gain a value-added, job-oriented training suiting the local and international Job market. The Government’s development policy framework ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’ has recognised the importance of investing in human capital in an integrated manner from early childhood development through higher education. It will support Sri Lanka’s transition to a knowledge-based economy where Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector has a vital role to play. The TVET sector being a branch of education coupled with skills development is expected to play a major role in making this vision a reality. Accordingly, the Government has launched the ‘Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP) of Sri Lanka 2014-2020: Towards employable skills for everyone’ as a part of its Public Investment Strategy 2014-2016. It will provide the overarching strategic framework for building an efficient skills development system by 2020 that can meet local and foreign labour market demand For the Strategic Cities Development Agenda, the IDA and the WB have agreed to provide a credit of $ 147 million (Rs 19,110 million). The program will be implemented through the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. The project will help to plan, design and develop two selected strategic cities, namely Galle and Kandy, with the intention of considering other cities in the future and their surroundings to facilitate a guided economic transformation of these cities into major regional economic centres focusing on growth and employment generation. Constructing a well-planned and connected network of cities and townships throughout the country by 2020 is an important pledge in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’. This network of cities which will be connected through the expressway and national highways is expected to be economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and culturally vibrant, facilitating regional economic growth. The strategic city development program will be implemented in line with the Government’s urban development strategy preserving the identity and uniqueness of each city with the appropriate blend of financing modalities to make the entire development program viable and sustainable. The Government has identified Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee and Jaffna as large cities to be developed under the Strategic Cities Development Program. At the meantime, nine other cities covering entire country will be developed as urban growth centres. Accordingly, priority has been given to improve the liveability and competitiveness of the selected cities. Several development partners including the Asian Development Bank, Agence’ French Development (AFD) and the World Bank have agreed in principle to support the Governments’ efforts in developing strategic cities. For the Water Resources Planning Activities that includes dam safety, the IDA has agreed to provide $ 83 million for the extension of the project that was implemented from 2008-2013. During that period the IDA supported the initiative by providing $ 65,000 million (for the implementation of Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning Project. Under the project, 32 selected high-risk large dams were rehabilitated and operational efficiency of 80 dams was improved. Based on the progress, the Government further decided to scale-up the project activities to include rehabilitation and modernisation of dams in Northern and Eastern Provinces that were not included under the original project, and to finance some incomplete activities in the original project. The Government in its long-term development strategy recognises irrigation and water resources management as a national priority. Accordingly, rehabilitation and modernisation of irrigation infrastructures have been given high national priority under the Government’s Public Investment Strategy 2014-2016. This is mainly because of the rising importance of agrarian economy and sustainable livelihood development, access to quality drinking water, electricity generation, and mitigation of the impacts of floods and droughts, and biodiversity. Dam safety, reliability and efficiency of their operations have been identified as the key to achieve these goals. To this end the Government-initiated the Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning Project (DSWRPP) in 2008 to improve the safety of a number of high risk dams and also to improve the capacity of water resources planning.