Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who, as the Minister of Finance, serves as the Governor for Sri Lanka of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), was elected Chair of the ADB Board of Governors for the year 2021/2022 during the 54th Annual Meeting that was held virtually this afternoon.
The annual meeting that was originally scheduled to be held in Tbilisi, Georgia, had to take place in a virtual format due to the current pandemic.
During the meeting, the Governors of Austria and Mongolia were also elected as Vice-Chairs.
The 55th Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors is scheduled to be held in Colombo next year.
Speaking at the meeting, Rajapaksa said that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented loss of human life and has disrupted almost all aspects of the people’s lives, societies, economies, value systems and our cultural practices.
“In that background, I believe the time is now right to reflect and re-group. After all, this century is the Asian Century. Our region has faced many crises, but Asia is also known for its resilience. Therefore, it is not surprising that our region is leading the growth story of the world, even during the current pandemic,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that emerging Asia has a responsibility to lead the world and must ensure sustainable practices that will make the environment resilient to climate change.
“Our policy solutions must be environmentally and socially sustainable. We must preserve our way of life for future generations. The need now is to collectively cooperate in addressing our common issues,” he said.
Towards this goal, the Prime Minister said that Sri Lanka must be ready to adopt practices and technologies that help make use of natural resources more efficiently.
In that regard, he said Sri Lanka has already identified the importance of digitalization to facilitate the delivery of services within a “green economy.”
“Our Government has also accelerated the drive to digitize public sector services as well. We must, in addition, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We believe the ADB must lead the way in supporting member countries to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We also believe the ADB must extend support to emerging Asia to have smarter, eco-sustainable cities. It should be a new approach to ensure that access to resources is better managed,” he said.
He also acknowledged the support extended by the ADB during the pandemic, which included the quick disbursement of a 20-billion dollar package. The 9-billion dollar Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility has also assisted Sri Lanka and many other countries to gain access to much-needed vaccines. (Colombo Gazette)