Sri Lanka must link leading region to rest of country: World Bank

March 17, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka needs to urgently integrate the western province, which accounts for half of gross domestic product, with the rest of the country to accelerate economic growth, a senior World Bank official said. Naoko Ishii, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, said one of key objectives of the government’s development strategy was how to integrate lagging regions into the growth path led by the leading region without discouraging its own growth momentum.

This, she said, was the challenge identified by the bank’s new World Development Report (WDR) 2009 and something that resonates well with the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for the island.

“The CAS identified expanding economic opportunities in the lagging regions for inclusive and equitable growth as one of three strategic objectives,” Ishii told a seminar where the WDR was launched.

It was organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, to discuss the report’s policy implications important for Sri Lanka.

This year’s World Development Report focuses on the vast differences in prosperity between different geographical areas that seem to be an unavoidable companion to economic development, Ishii said.