Addressing the Third Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors' Business Roundtable of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) held on Monday (25) in Mumbai, India, Sri Lanka's Finance Minister highlighted that cities all over the world are adopting various measures to efficiently manage urbanization which paves the way for sustainable cities.
He pointed out that in the path to achieve sustainable cities, many countries are facing various challenges that include unequal access to public services or inefficient usage of public services, as well as vulnerability to natural hazards.
"Therefore, I am of the view that the main focus of the concept of Sustainable Cities should be on serving the poorest segments of the society by providing better living and working conditions for them by ensuring affordable housing, health care, water, sanitation and electricity," he said.
In this context, Minister Samaraweera said the Government of Sri Lanka has accorded high priority to achieve sustainable development in urban areas, while taking various policy measures to uplift the living conditions of the poor.
"The theme of my National Budget Proposals for 2018 was 'Blue-Green Economy'. In this context, we recognized the inalienable relevance of ocean related economic potential of our country as an Island. We introduced sustainable development strategies that pave the way to achieve our Vision for 2025 that envisages a country enriched with a higher per-capita over USD 5000."
He said Sri Lanka has received a positive response from AIIB for the Urban Regeneration Programme which aims at relocating 50,000 low and lower middle-income households living in slums and shanties in Colombo City into new apartments.
The Minister noting that Sri Lanka, being an Island, hosts over hundred lagoons and estuaries said the government plans to develop these lagoons and expects the support of the AIIB."The environmental sustainability of those precious water bodies will ensure the wellbeing of many aquatic resources, therefore, we expect to implement a lagoon development project in the country for which the AIIB could become a strong partner in due course," he said.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Minister Samaraweera also had discussions with the Indian Minister of Finance, Railways and Coal, Piyush Goyal on the matters of mutual interest.Meeting with the President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Jin Liqun the Minister said he discussed the projects which need to be finalized for this year and for year 2019.