FINANCE MINISTER AMUNUGAMA APPRECIATES
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO SRI LANKA DURING THE TSUNAMI CRISIS
AT WORLD BANK-IMF SPRING SESSIONS
Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama who met
President of the World Bank James Wolfensohn in Washington on
Monday (18 April), expressed Sri Lanka’s appreciation for
his personal involvement in assisting Sri Lanka’s recovery
efforts related to the December 26 tsunami disaster. The Minister
apprised the World Bank President of the mechanisms in place to
ensure progress of the country’s tsunami reconstruction
and rehabilitation efforts and that the Development Forum of Donors
would be held in Kandy in mid May 2005. The World Bank President
stated that the model of making disbursements through the banking
system, which has worked well in Sri Lanka, could be adopted in
other similar World Bank projects as well.
Minister Amunugama, who was in Washington to
attend the G-24, IMFC (International Monetary and Financial Committee)
and Development Committee (DC) meetings of the IMF and World Bank,
concluded his six day visit Monday, receiving assurances of support
from senior officials of the two multilateral aid agencies as
well as a number of friendly countries.
During a meeting with the Finance Minister, Deputy
Managing Director of the IMF Takatoshi Kato, congratulated the
visiting Minister for the success of the immediate relief effort
in the aftermath of tsunami and wished the Government well in
its reconstruction activities. Mr. Kato also indicated that the
IMF would help the Sri Lanka Government in its efforts to develop
economic stability and growth. Minister Amunugama expressed the
gratitude of the Government of Sri Lanka for assistance of the
IMF provided through US $110 million as deferment of debt repayment
and another US$ 158 million granted under the Emergency Natural
Disaster Assistance (ENDA) facility.
In his meeting with Praful Patel, Vice President,
South Asia Region of the World Bank, the Minster thanked the World
Bank for the immediate assistance provided and the ongoing assistance
with regard to the recent tsunami. Mr. Patel also commented on
Sri Lanka’s effective response to the needs created by the
tsunami disaster. Minister Amunugama informed Mr. Patel that the
Government having completed the relief phase was now proceeding
with the more difficult reconstruction and rehabilitation phase.
He noted that various countries and NGOs (local and international)
and the private sector were assisting the country in this phase.
The Minister also noted that the revised Poverty Reduction Strategy
Programme (PRSP) would be finalized in the coming weeks.
On the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank Spring
Meetings Minister Amunugama also held several bilateral discussions
with his counterparts. Discussions with Indian Finance Minister
P. Chidambaram focused on the growing economic ties between the
two countries in the context of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
Minister Amunugama expressed the profound appreciation of the
Government of Sri Lanka for the solidarity displayed by the Indian
Government and the people following the tsunami and for all the
assistance rendered by India. Minister Chidambaram assured the
Indian Government’s continued support for Sri Lanka and
indicated that the ongoing policy dialogue would be intensified.
At a meeting with Caio Koch Weser, the Under
Secretary for Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany, the
Minister thanked Under Secretary Koch Weser for the overwhelming
generosity of the people of Germany following the tsunami disaster.
He also expressed the Government’s appreciation for the
bilateral assistance extended by the Government of Germany towards
Sri Lanka’s reconstruction and rehabilitation activities.
The German Finance Under Secretary requested that Sri Lanka convey
its special needs identified in the reconstruction and rehabilitation
phase to the German Minister of Development for further assistance.
Meeting with the Deputy Finance Minister of Japan
Hiroshi Watanabe, Minister Amunugama expressed the Government’s
appreciation for the continued support extended by Japan to the
country’s development programs as well as to the needs arising
from the recent tsunami tragedy. The Minister’s discussions
with Deputy Finance Minister Watanabe focused on Sri Lanka’s
existing strong bilateral relations and the need to further enhance
trade relations between the two countries.
During his stay in Washington Minister Amunugama
also met with Representative Jerry Weller, (R-Illinois) and Representative
Joseph Crowley (D- New York). The Minister expressed his gratitude
for the assistance provided to Sri Lanka during the recent tsunami
tragedy by the US Administration as well as by the US public,
NGOs, corporations and foundations. The Minister urged the support
of the Congress in securing special trade concessions particularly
for Sri Lanka’s apparel exports to the US, that would help
the Sri Lankan economy in this hour of crisis.
Meeting Mr. Paul Applegarth, Chief Executive
Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Dr.
Amunugama expressed appreciation for the inclusion of Sri Lanka
in the MCA assistance program for FY 2004 and FY 2005. The Minister
discussed moving forward on the present Sri Lanka MCC Concept
Paper focusing on development of the rural sector, to develop
it into a compact to be successfully negotiated for funding by
The Finance Minister’s delegation included
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Bernard A.B.
Goonetilleke, Deputy Chief of Mission H.K.J.R. Bandara, Governor,
Central Bank of Sri Lanka Sunil Mendis, Deputy Secretary to the
Treasury M. Sumith Abeysinghe, Assistant Governor of the Central
Bank Dr. A.G. Karunasena, Alternate Executive Director, IMF Dr.
Uthum Herat, Additional Director General, Development Finance,
Ministry of Finance, H.M. Gunasekera, First Secretary of the Sri
Lanka Embassy Dhammika Semasinghe, and Second Secretary Ameena
Embassy of Sri Lanka
18 April 2005