World Bank has agreed to extend $ 331.5 million financing support to the key development projects of the government.
The funds will be used to support the Government’s Skills Sector Development Program, Water Resources Planning Activities which includes Dam Safety and Strategic Cities Development, the Ministry of Finance said.
The Finance Agreements on these programmes were signed last Friday by the Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P. B. Jayasundara on behalf of the government and World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives Francoise Clottes, on behalf of the agency.
To support the implementation of the Skills Sector Development Program (SSDP) 2014 – 2010 themed ‘Towards Employable Skills for Everyone,’ the international Development Association (IDA) of the World Ban has agreed to finance USD 101.5 million.
The SSDP aims at provide the overarching strategic framework for building an efficient skills development system by 2010 that can meet local and foreign labour market demands. The total investment estimates by the government for the project was USD 980 million. The funds will be integrated with the Annual Budget of the government from 2014 – 2018.
The financing of USD 101.5 million from the World Bank is targeted to help at least 825,000 youths to get the chance to enroll in public and private vocational training institutions to gain a value-added, job oriented training suiting the local and international job market.
The government’s development policy framework ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’ has recognized the importance of investing in human capital in an integrated manner from early childhood development through higher education. It will support Sri Lanka’s transition to a knowledge-based economyc where Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector has a vital role to play. The TVET sector being a branch of education coupled with skills development is expected to play a major role in making this vision a reality.
For the Strategic Cities Development Agenda, the IDA and the World Bank agreed to provide a credit of USD 147 million. The Programme will be implemented through the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. The project will help to plan, design and develop two selected strategic cities, Galle and Kandy with the intention of considering other cities in the future and their surroundings to facilitate a guided economic transformation of these cities into major regional economic centres focusing on growth and employment generation.
Constructing a well-planned and connected network of cities and townships throughout the country by 2010 is an important pledge in the ‘Mahinda Chinthana – Vision for the Future’. This network of cities which will be connected through expressways and national highways expected to be economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and culturally vibrant, facilitating regional economic growth.
The strategic city development programme will be implemented in line with the government’s urban development strategy preserving the identity and uniqueness of each city with the appropriate blend of financing modalities to make the entire development programme viable and sustainable.
The government has identified Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, and Jaffna as large cities to be developed under the Strategic Cities Development Programme. At the meantime, nine other cities covering entire country will be developed as urban growth centres.
Accordingly. Priority has been given to improve the liveability and competitiveness of the selected cities. Several development partners including the Asian Development Bank, Agence’ French Development (AFD) and the World Bank have agreed in principle to support the government’s efforts in developing strategic cities.
For the Water Resources Planning Activities that includes dam safety, the IDA has agreed to provide USD 83 million for the extension of the project that was implemented from 2008-2013. During that period IDA supported the initiative by providing USD 65,000 million for the implementation of Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning Project.
Under the project, 32 selected high-risk large dams were rehabilitated and operational and efficiency of 80 dams was improved. Based on the progress, the government further decided to scale-up the project activities to include rehabilitation and modernization of dams in Northern and Eastern Provinces that were not included under the original project, and to finance some incomplete activities in the regional project.
The government in its long-term development strategy recognizes irrigation and water resources management as a national priority. Accordingly, rehabilitation and modernization of irrigation infrastructure have been given high national priority under the Government’s Public Investment Strategy 2014-2016.