World Bank commends Sri Lanka on handling of COVID-19 pandemic
During a meeting with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this evening, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos, has commended the Sri Lankan Government for how it has dealt with the Coronavirus outbreak.
Expressing “deep gratitude for the relationship” that Sri Lanka and the World Bank share, Hadad-Zervos congratulated the Prime Minister “not only on the election (victory) but how Sri Lanka has managed the pandemic.”
“We wish you a speedy exit from this situation,” he said. He was accompanied by the World Bank Country Manager for the Maldives and Sri Lanka, Chiyo Kanda.
The Sri Lankan delegation thanked the World Bank for the many years of close cooperation and assured that the new government will continue that relationship. It also appreciated the Bank for the various assistance programs during the pandemic. The World Bank was the first donor agency to come forward with assistance when the pandemic first broke out early this year.
The Country Director said the World Bank will assess how best to support Sri Lanka and to “see how we can turn this crisis into an opportunity.”
Asked about Sri Lanka’s priorities, PM Rajapaksa responded by pointing to several key sectors the Government would like to priorities after the current outbreak situation is under control: Economic development, roads, drinking water, sanitation and agriculture.
In the area of agriculture, the two delegations explored how farmers could be more empowered to produce value-added products that could be marketed internationally as uniquely Sri Lankan brands.
The World Bank Country Director highlight Sri Lanka’s Ayurveda sector, noting that there is a great international demand for Ayurvedic products.
Another area that was discussed was film tourism. With a very well-developed tourism sector, Hadad-Zervos said a possible next step for countries like Sri Lanka to increase tourism even further is to attract the entertainment industry from around the world to use Sri Lanka as the location for productions. Studies have shown that seeing a location in a movie or television can have a significant impact on the number of tourists visiting that location. One of the most successful examples of film-induced tourism is New Zealand after being featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
PM Rajapaksa said the Ranminithenna Tele Cinema Village was establish — during his presidency — with film tourism in mind. However, it was not put to good use during the past few years. While there are examples of some popular films shot in Sri Lanka — such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Water — there is a lot of potential for growth, the two delegations agreed. The Prime Minister has expressed a keen interest on further collaborating with the World Bank in this area.
-Prime Minister’s Media