He further said, that Sri Lanka is a country that has missed an opportunity to transform its public transport since it gained independence. He however, expressed satisfaction over the way the MCC - Sri Lanka Compact had allocated US$ 350 million to increase the relative efficiency and capacity of the road network and public transport system in the country.
“We had governments that kept building roads and kept adding to the congestion and not thought of transforming public transport. That idea had been long time coming and I think, we should really think about how it works. We need sometimes an external party with a high level of interest in supporting something that could have a positive transformation,” he said at a Seminar, held under the theme ‘Separating the Baby From the Bathwater: Evaluating the Millenium Challenge Corporation - Sri Lanka Comapct,’ at the BMICH and the seminar was organized by the Pathfinder Foundation.
He further said that increasing the amount of roads, cars or congestion is not a true developmental success.
“ If you travel anywhere in Europe or some other cities in the USA, you see that they are becoming less friendly to cars, as buses and trains go much faster than cars. As a result, not only pedestrians have a better life, also the public transport sector has a better life,” he said.
“Sri Lanka currently, has the exact same public transport system that was introduced in 1980. If we go to Fort Railway Station, I am unable to imagine that the place was looking very different before Independence, than it does now,” he said.
Speaking further, he stressed the need to transform the logistics surrounding agriculture lands to redress major issues such as post harvest losses and so on.
The MCC of the US Government approved a five-year grant of $480 million to Sri Lanka, on the April 25 2019, in Washington, to expand economic opportunities and reduce poverty through economic growth.
The Compact seeks to address two of the country’s binding constraints to economic growth, such as inadequate transport logistics infrastructure and planning and the lack of access to land for agriculture, the services sector and industrial investors. Accordingly, the Compact would be composed of two projects: a Transport Project and a Land Project.
The goal of the Land Project is to increase the availability of information on private land and underutilized state lands or all land in Sri Lanka, in order to increase the land market activity. The land project would increase tenure, security and tradability of land for smallholders, women and firms through policy and legal reforms. MCC would fund the compact entirely, through grants which do not need to be repaid rather than loans.