Sri Lanka road investments slow to yield economic expansion: Central Bank

ECONOMYNEXT – Despite big investments in building roads with the aim of improving connectivity in Sri Lanka, the expected expansion in regional economic activity has been slow, the Central Bank said.

Work on development and expansion of the national expressway network continued in 2018, along with measures to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety, it said in the bank’s annual report for 2018.

“The rehabilitation of existing roads and construction of new roads continued amidst tight fiscal conditions in 2018, in order to improve the road network to support economic activity,” it said.

Total spending incurred by the Road Development Authority (RDA) on road development amounted to 160.4 billion rupees in 2018, down 16.9 percent from the previous year.

This included expenditure of  60.5 billion rupees on expressway development, 70.0 billion on highway development and 13.1 billion rupees on construction of bridges and flyovers.

 “ . . . the government has already invested considerably in developing the road network, which included a significant portion of funding coming from debt related sources, to improve regional connectivity,” the report said.

However, it noted that “this investment drive has not been able to fully realise envisaged regional economic expansion. This highlights the need to prioritise development projects in those areas to get the maximum benefit of these investments.”

The RDA maintains a total length of 12,389.9 km of road, which included national highways and expressways, together with 4,662 bridges.

(COLOMBO, April 29, 2019-SB)

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