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IFC Aims to Strengthen Competitiveness and Sustainability of Sri Lanka’s Private Sector


In New Delhi
Minakshi Seth
Tel. +(91) 11 4111 1058
Email: mseth@ifc.org


Colombo, March 6, 2007 — IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today reaffirmed its commitment to contributing to Sri Lanka’s economy by working closely with private enterprise across key sectors. Senior IFC officials, visiting from Washington and India, shared best practices and case studies at a day-long workshop entitled, “Beyond Financing: Creating Opportunities, Empowering Enterprise.”  The event in Colombo commemorated IFC’s 50th anniversary, with senior management professionals in banking, trade finance, infrastructure, manufacturing, and tourism sectors attending.

Farida Khambata, IFC’s Regional Vice President for Asia and Latin America, recognized the progress being made by private sector players in Sri Lanka, as well as IFC’s growing role in facilitating the growth of private enterprise. She said, “In the last 50 years, IFC has tried to make a difference toward poverty reduction in emerging markets. We believe that the private sector is key to development, as it is the most important engine for growth and job creation.”

Iyad Malas, IFC Regional Director for South Asia, explained, “Today IFC’s activities cover a wide range of sectors, from ports, highways to microfinance institutions, vegetable farms, resort hotels, housing banks, IT companies, schools, and hospitals.” IFC’s products and services on offer have expanded from the original dollar-denominated senior loans and equity, to include loans in a variety of currencies, quasi-equities of varying types, currency and interest rate swaps and, most recently, carbon credits.

Anil Sinha, General Manager for the IFC SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility, pointed out, ”Today, IFC not only invests, but also manages advisory programs in extremely challenging and difficult markets.  This work, funded from our profits and by donors, aims to build capacity in the private sector and improve the investment climate.” Mr. Sinha is also the South Asia Regional Coordinator for IFC’s advisory services, an increasingly large component of the Corporation’s contribution to private sector growth in developing regions.

Giving an update of IFC’s experience, Gilles Galludec, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives, elaborated, "Since its existence in Sri Lanka, IFC’s cumulative commitment has exceeded over $300m. Today IFC's investment exposure in Sri Lanka is $86m and $68m in Maldives. The investments are largely in the ports and energy infrastructure, telecommunications and the financial services sectors in Sri Lanka while in the Maldives these are in tourism, telecommunications, and financial services sectors.”

Globally, IFC’s strategic priorities include strengthening the focus in frontier markets; building long-term partnerships with emerging global players in developing countries; differentiating through sustainability; addressing constraints to private sector growth in infrastructure, health, and education; and helping local financial market development through institution building and the use of innovative financial products.

IFC was founded in 1956, as a member of the World Bank Group, with the aim to further economic development by encouraging the growth of productive private enterprise in member countries, particularly in the less developed areas. IFC promotes poverty reduction in developing countries through the private sector, as it creates jobs, generates income, builds infrastructure, and provides essential goods and services.

Today IFC has 179 member countries and a $10 billion capital base. In its first full year of operations IFC made 4 investments totaling $5.3 million. In the 2006 fiscal year IFC made 284 investments totaling $5.4 billion, demonstrating how far the Corporation has come in 50 years.

About IFC

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries. IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06, IFC Financial Products have committed more than $56 billion in funding for private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure, to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance, and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information, please visit www.ifc.org.

About IFC SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility
The IFC SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility is a multidonor funded facility managed and operated by IFC. It is one of the 11 regional programs managed by IFC worldwide. Set up to promote the growth of SMEs in the region, IFC SEDF is funded by IFC, the governments of the Netherlands and Norway, and the European Commission, DFID (UK), CIDA (Canada), and the Asian Development Bank. It provides increased access to finance and quality business development services to projects in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Northeast India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. IFC SEDF also helps create an enabling business environment and supports value addition to firms through tailored enterprise and organization-specific advisory services, capacity building programs, training, and research. In Sri Lanka, IFC SEDF is funded by IFC and the governments of the Netherlands and Norway.