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World Bank to make $429 million available for Fiji on highly concessional terms over the next 4 years

World Bank to make $429 million available for Fiji on highly concessional terms over the next 4 years

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 22/01/2021

The World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework for Fiji for the next four years has been revealed which focuses on fostering private sector-led growth and inclusive economic opportunities and building resilience.

Over the next four years, the World Bank will be programming more than $429 million to support the implementation of the strategy; the most consequential level of support ever and most of it on highly-concessional loan terms.

At its core, the Framework supports Fiji’s forward planning to boost its economic recovery from COVID-19 and further strengthens Fiji’s resilience to future climate and public health emergencies.

Resident Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, Lasse Melgaard says the World Bank Group’s support to Fiji has increased significantly in the past five years and they are delighted to see the partnership deepen further.

They will focus on creating investment and business opportunities; more jobs; improved access to finance; boosting the tourism and agriculture sectors; as well as better infrastructure, digital services and more clean energy. It also includes support to help Fiji gain access to funds both before and after a disaster strikes; improve emergency planning and increase resilient infrastructure; protect the environment and develop a sustainable Blue Economy; strengthen community resilience to climate and public health emergencies; and provide social assistance to help families and businesses that are in critical need.

The Framework is underpinned by an emphasis on strengthening governance and supporting gender equality.

This work will include creating more jobs for women and helping to address gender-based violence in the country.

The Framework is closely aligned with Fiji’s National Development Plan and was developed in close consultation with government, civil society and the private sector.

Central to the framework is a focus on supporting Fiji’s recovery from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, as well as severe Tropical Cyclones Harold and Yasa; all three events having hit Fiji in 2020, in addition to the ongoing impacts of climate change.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says service-based economies like Fiji's have been worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, compounding our already-extreme vulnerabilities to climate change. He says the partnership with the World Bank holds the potential to enhance Fiji’s resilience to an array of external shocks, including the impacts of lethal pathogens and a warming planet.

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Sayed-Khaiyum says the pace of our recovery over the next 12 months will determine our ability to meet the stated aims of the four-year partnership.

He says with the right support and access to adequate finance, the Fijian economy can indeed emerge stronger and more capable of seizing new opportunities but we must seek more than a short-term recovery.

The Minister for Economy says together with the World Bank, they hope to shape an international financial system that is more inclusive and more responsive to the development priorities of small states and the Global South.

As the largest global development organization focused on the private sector in emerging markets, International Finance Corporation is concentrating its efforts on mobilizing funds from the private sector to help finance development projects including in the areas of healthcare, renewable energy and affordable housing.

IFC Resident Representative for Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Deva De Silva says with the triple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and two cyclones, private sector solutions will be essential to help stimulate Fiji’s economy. He says while COVID-19 is leaving a deep scar on the economy and has impacted the livelihoods of many people, particularly those reliant on tourism, they also see an opportunity to build back better.

They are looking to create bridges between the public and private sectors to develop large scale initiatives, worth more than US$300 million and remain committed to supporting the government, including in the areas of tourism, financial systems reform, healthcare, affordable housing, renewable energy and improving gender equality.

The World Bank, which will mark 50 years of work in Fiji in 2021, including having financed the first construction of the Queens Road from Suva to Nadi, while IFC celebrates 42 years in Fiji this year, having recently signed a landmark agreement with Energy Fiji Limited to deliver the largest solar project of its kind in the Pacific, bringing Fiji a step closer to its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.

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