"The potential in the South Asia region for economic growth and, through it improving the lives of people is still vastly untapped. Development institutions such as the World Bank who are key partners in the process, can play a major role. The World Bank should share global knowledge on what works and what does not; What has succeeded and what has failed and why; and provide concessionary funds to spur development in key areas."

Minister Milinda Moragoda, Minister for Economic Reform, Science & Technology, was speaking as the invited and the only keynote speaker at the Development Seminar on "Economic Prospects in South Asia" sponsored by the World Bank in Washington D.C. today.

While recognizing the substantial contribution that the World Bank is making in South Asian countries, Minister Moragoda stressed that the World Bank needs to communicate better to the masses, as the institution's policies, though well placed, are often misunderstood. He appreciated that economic development takes time- and is a long term process- but for national leaders and the World Bank to succeed there is need to show early results as well. "It is good to promise honey in the future, but we also need bread today, "he said.

Vice President for the World Bank's South Asia Region, emphasized his commitment to support the South Asia region more aggressively - and Sri Lanka in particular given the urgent need in a post conflict situation. Attainment of peace he said was key to attracting huge amounts of donor assistance that is in the pipeline. Praful Patel said that in his recent discussions with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, they had agreed on the priority that needs to be given to building capacity for speedier implementation; and to support upgrading and enhancing infrastructure and basic services to citizens.

Mr. Patel said that Minister Moragoda's passionate advocacy for sustained assistance and quicker results was an aspect which was also echoed by leaders in other countries as well - "Minister Moragoda's appeal on behalf of Sri Lanka has been heard loud and clear."

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

15 October 2003


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