UNDP Assistant Administrator conducts four day visit to Sri Lanka

10 Oct 2008

Colombo, October 10, 2008 - Mr. Ajay Chhibber, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) concluded a four day visit to Sri Lanka from 6 to 9 Oct, 2008. This was his first visit since he assumed his post in July and it served to familiarize him with the work of UNDP and that of its Regional Centre in Colombo.

During the visit, Mr Chhibber met and exchanged views with senior Government officials and a wide range of partners including donors, civil society and the United Nations Country team. He also met with staff of the UNDP country office and the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo and shared his vision on how UNDP could best be a strategic partner to the countries of the region, particularly on pressing issues of the day such as poverty, inequality, rising food and fuel prices and disaster mitigation.

UNDP has a diverse programme in Sri Lanka ranging from Poverty Reduction to the protection of the Environment, the promotion of Democratic Governance and support to Peace and Recovery. Supporting the Government's recovery efforts in the Eastern province, UNDP is involved in a number of projects which aim at facilitating the return and resettlement of displaced populations in this area of the country. The current Country Programme has a financial volume of $ 70 million over a period of five years (2008-2012).

Mr. Chhibber’s visit included meetings with Hon. MP Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Presidential Advisor; Hon. Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Sumith Abeysinghe, the Secretary to the Treasury. Discussion focused on the Millennium Development Goals, the plight of plantation communities and the urgent need for improvement in their socio-economic status and the impact of the global financial crisis on Sri Lanka’s economy. Additionally, the meeting reviewed UNDP’s program in the East to support early-recovery efforts.

Discussions with the Hon. Minister Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, focused on relations between UNDP and the Sri Lankan Government and the strengthening of democratic institutions throughout South Asia.  Mr. Chhibber noted with satisfaction the level of collaboration evident between UNDP and the Government. He commended UNDP’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through a coordinated approach with other UN agencies and the Government.

During his visit Mr. Chhibber was accompanied by Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, the incoming Deputy Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) and head of UNDP’s Regional Centres in Colombo, Bangkok and Suva, Fiji and Ms. Fadzai Gwaradzimba, the Division Chief, South and West Asia Division.