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Thursday, June 8, 2023

IFC to increase investments in Sri Lanka – The Morning

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  • Invests $ 450 mn during first 18 months of pandemic  

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) aims to boost its investments in Sri Lanka, said IFC Regional Vice President – Asia and the Pacific Alfonso Garcia Mora during his meetings, while highlighting IFC’s investment of $ 450 million during the first 18 months of the pandemic in Sri Lanka as a sign of IFC’s steadfast commitment to the country.

The investment has been made with a focus on supporting private sector job creation, paving the way for robust investments to help spur the country’s recovery and future growth.

“In my meeting with the President, we discussed the need to have a sound macro fiscal stability to attract foreign capital and provide medium and long-term certainty,” Mora said. “The talks also focused on ways to maximise the potential of the country’s private sector to help address Sri Lanka’s challenges and achieve the inclusive growth the country needs.”

The comments by Garcia Mora, came at the end of a three-day visit to Sri Lanka, which included a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Minister of Finance 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 accompanied by IFC Vice President – Risk Mohamed Gouled, Regional Director – South Asia Hector Gomez Ang, and new Country Manager – Sri Lanka and the Maldives Lisa Kaestner, as well as World Bank Country Director – Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Nepal Faris Hadad-Zervos. 

We are committed to Sri Lanka,” Garcia Mora said. “This is demonstrated by our investment commitments in the past six months which have targeted export-oriented industries. Since the onset of the pandemic, IFC has also played a strong counter cyclical role in its financing and will continue to build on that programme going forward.” 

“We are working with the private sector in the country to create a robust investment pipeline and this can be accelerated with additional reforms in the infrastructure sector, allowing the private sector to play a bigger role,” Garcia Mora said. “IFC intends to invest a further $ 150 million during the current fiscal year ending in June 2022. Over the next five years, IFC is looking at an investment pipeline of more than $ 800 million, specifically in supporting growth-enabling sustainable infrastructure.” 

The IFC’s efforts will focus around three strategic pillars in Sri Lanka: supporting innovation for growth, including export diversification, start-ups, niche market agriculture and value additions for export, high-tech manufacturing; growth-enabling sustainable infrastructure, including low-cost clean energy, sustainable transport, and logistics systems; and deepening social and financial inclusion, including digitisation, and economic participation of underserved people, especially women.  

While in Colombo, Garcia Mora also signed a co-operation agreement with John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH) to develop a commercially viable and sustainable street market in Colombo 2, which will also promote women’s participation in hospitality and tourism. The officials also had the opportunity to meet clients and partners of the Women in Work programme – IFC’s largest, standalone country-based gender programme designed to close gender gaps in Sri Lanka’s private sector. 

Since the beginning 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 over its 50-year operations. As part of the overall pandemic response, IFC injected $ 50 million in Commercial Bank of Ceylon and $ 25 million in Nations Trust Bank (NTB) to help small businesses stay afloat during the height of the pandemic.

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