The World Bank has summoned, its top representative in Colombo, Peter Harrold for an urgent meeting, at its regional headquarters in Manila, later this week fuelling speculation the Manila consultations would focus on Harrold`s recent hotly disputed assessment, (which he subsequently denied) that LTTE controlled area in the northern and eastern provinces was a kind of `unofficial state`.
Well informed sources said that the World Bank couldn`t ignore Harrold`s statement which goes beyond the limits of prudent comments that should be observed by an expatriate official. The sources speculated on the possibility of the World Bank contemplating action to discipline the errant official.
Citing the forthcoming meeting in Manila, Harrold`s Colombo Office had informed the European Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka that the Country Director wouldn`t be available on Friday (18) to attend a luncheon meeting at Earl`s Court, Trans Asia. Harrold was scheduled to address the European Chamber of Commerce, Sri Lanka on the Prospects of Achieving Economic Prosperity in Sri Lanka -View of the Multilateral Donors -the sources said. The organisers are trying to re-schedule the meeting for March 31. But it is not clear whether Harrold would be available for the March 31 meeting.
A senior representative of a BOI-approved firm expressed the belief the World Bank would discipline its Country Director. `The World Bank has to consider the implications of what he has said and the illogical way he attempted to defend himself,` he said.
The JVP and the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) had demanded the removal of Harrold. They had vowed to continue their protests to pressure the government to take up this issue with the World Bank.
Political sources expressed disappointment the Foreign Ministry didn`t summon Harrold over his biased statement. The Island learns that the ministry in fact decided to summon him but subsequently put the planned action on hold.