International Finance Corporation to boost investment in Sri Lanka
The International Finance Corporation must increase its investments in Sri Lanka, with a focus on supporting job creation in the private sector, paving the way for strong investment to help drive the country’s recovery and future growth .
The comments from IFC’s Regional Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Alfonso Garcia Mora, came at the end of a three-day visit to Sri Lanka, which included a meeting with the President of Sri Lanka, HE Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance, Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, government officials including Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, private sector representatives, entrepreneurs and development partners.
Garcia Mora was joined by IFC Vice President for Risk, Mohamed Gouled, Regional Director for South Asia, Hector Gomez Ang, and new Country Manager for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Lisa Kaestner, as well as World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal, Faris Hadad-Zervos.
“During my meeting with His Excellency the President, we discussed the need to have sound macro-fiscal stability to attract foreign capital and provide medium to long-term certainty,” Garcia Mora said. “Discussions also focused on ways to maximize the potential of the country’s private sector to help address Sri Lanka’s challenges and achieve the inclusive growth the country needs.”
“We are attached to Sri Lanka,” said Garcia Mora. “This is demonstrated by our investment commitments over the past six months which have targeted export-oriented industries. Since the onset of the pandemic, IFC has also played an important countercyclical role in its financing and will continue to build on this program going forward.
During his meetings, Garcia Mora highlighted IFC’s $450 million investment in the first 18 months of the pandemic in Sri Lanka as a sign of IFC’s unwavering commitment to the country.
“We are working with the country’s private sector to create a strong investment pipeline and this can be accelerated with additional reforms in the infrastructure sector, allowing the private sector to play a greater role,” Garcia Mora said. “IFC intends to invest an additional $150 million in the current fiscal year ending June 2022. Over the next five years, IFC envisions an investment pipeline of more than 800 million, in particular to support sustainable infrastructure conducive to growth.
IFC’s efforts will focus on three strategic pillars in Sri Lanka: supporting innovation for growth, including export diversification, start-ups, niche market agriculture, and value addition for export, high-tech manufacturing; sustainable infrastructure conducive to growth, including low-cost clean energy, sustainable transport and logistics systems; and deepening social and financial inclusion, including digitalization, economic participation of underserved people, especially women.
While in Colombo, Garcia Mora also signed a cooperation agreement with John Keells Holdings (JKH) to develop a commercially viable and sustainable street market in Colombo 2, which will also promote women’s participation in hospitality and tourism. . Managers also had the opportunity to meet with clients and partners of the Women in Work program, IFC’s largest stand-alone national program designed to close gender gaps in Sri Lanka’s private sector.
Since the start of the pandemic, IFC has invested $450 million in Sri Lanka, including $175 million in JKH to boost retail and tourism – IFC’s largest investment in Sri Lanka in its 50 years. years of operation. As part of the overall pandemic response, IFC injected $50 million into Commercial Bank of Ceylon and $25 million into Nations Trust Bank to help small businesses stay afloat during the height of the pandemic. IFC’s strategy has also focused on expanding export diversification, promoting sustainability and inclusive growth. Last year, IFC piloted a new digital health program – DigiHealth – improve access to affordable and quality health services in Sri Lanka and beyond. In October, the IFC also issued its first-ever rupee-denominated bond in the country – the ‘Serendib Bond’ – ensure that the private sector has access to long-term offshore financing in local currency. (Colombo Official Gazette)