Clean Up

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

The government will hold off divesture plans for the six regional development banks until 2005, giving time for the banks to clean up their act. rn
The Central Bank in August 2003 mooted plans to divest around 47 percent stake in each of the six RDBs endash Kandurata, Ruhuna, Wayamba, Sabaragamuwa, Uva and Rajarata. rn

rnOn Monday the Deputy Finance Minister and Minister of Rural Economy Bandula Gunewardene said divesture plans had been put on hold to allow the six RDBs to improve their performance. rn

rnImproving their performance would include a wider lending portfolio, stepping up deposit mobilisation, higher loan recoveries and adopting information technology (IT) to hasten loan approval and improve efficiencies. rn

rnThe Ministry is also helping the RDBs reform, guaranteeing up to 60 per cent of the risk of a new low interest-lending programme through the Rural Economy Resuscitation Fund. rn

rnThe Fund, established in 2002 for rural financing, has a Rs. 200 mn state allocation and another