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ADB Country Director bids adieu

The new ADB country director for Sri Lanka is Richard Vokes; Alessandro Pio who held the post from August 2004 wished the country goodbye, having called a media conference. "I would have liked to remain in Sri Lanka for two more years, but I have been recalled by Manila," an emotional Pio said.

Pio will assume duties as director of the strategy and policy division in the ADB headquarters in Manila. That ADB division in Manila is to be computerised and ADB were looking within for a few people with hands-on experience. Pio, an Italian, had earlier been posted to Vietnam and the Philippines. He was the ADB country economist for Sri Lanka in 1997-98.

Pio, during his tenure of office in Sri Lanka as country director, was significantly involved in improving the performance of ongoing ADB projects through closer monitoring, while the delegation of the resident mission, here, was strengthened. Currently, ADB has an active portfolio of 49 loans for a total of $1.7 billion.

Pio thought that Sri Lanka will continue to face a number of economic and social challenges. Thus, achieving a lasting internal peace and reconciliation is the essential ingredient to put Sri Lanka on a strong and sustainable development path, he said.

Pio welcomed the current effort to achieve a broad political consensus to face common challenges. Accordingly, the proposed resumption of peace talks was encouraging. But, the intensification of fighting and killings observed in recent months runs counter to what the country needs.

The impact on development assistance and post-tsunami reconstruction in areas of the north is being felt.

But, planned projects, such as the improvement of the Jaffna water supply and sanitation system, cannot go forward unless a condition of peace is re-established, he said.

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