The FINANCIAL -- The World Bank Group’s new short-term strategy to support
Egypt while it manages its political transformation, focuses on reforms
to increase inclusion, transparency and accountability and on the urgent
need to create more and better economic opportunities for all
According to the World Bank , the new strategy will be complemented by a project to generate immediate, short-term employment through investments in public works in vulnerable communities.
“We will continue to offer the full range of support to Egypt as it makes this historic transition,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region. “Our strategy reflects the strong desire of the new actors in Egypt to focus on job creation and reforms to build better systems of governance. We will of course remain flexible and ready to respond to new requests from the government.”
Following the revolution of January 25, 2011, the World Bank Group broadened its engagement with all segments of Egyptian society. The Interim Strategy Note (ISN), discussed by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors today, is the product of a series of consultations with the interim government, civil society, new political parties, youth organizations, and representatives from academia and the private sector.
“We have spent the last year listening to a wide range of voices,” said David Craig, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “These conversations helped us align future World Bank activities with the aspirations expressed during the revolution; listening helped us figure out how best to help Egypt face the dual challenge of implementing much-needed government reforms while meeting the urgent need for more economic opportunities.”
The ISN provides a platform for the Bank Group’s continued support to Egypt for the next 18 months until December 2013. An ISN is used by the World Bank instead of the three-year long Country Partnership Strategy, in cases where there is uncertainty and a fast-changing environment.
The Egypt ISN, jointly prepared with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), focuses on three strategic areas. Firstly, to support the government as it seeks to improve economic management, Bank assistance will be available to help in restoring a sound and healthy macroeconomic framework and in defining and launching reforms to enhance the transparency of all government economic operations.
Secondly, to help address high levels of unemployment, the Bank Group will support financing and investment for jobs and job creating infrastructure as well as technical assistance with measures to improve the environment for private sector-led growth and the quality of education. “IFC has played a strong counter-cyclical role in supporting the Egyptian private sector since the revolution, and we expect to maintain this momentum during the ISN period,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC’s Regional Director for MENA.
The third major area of strategic support is designed to help Egypt in its post-revolution mission to foster inclusion across the population by ensuring better access to good services for excluded groups – namely youth, the poor, women and those living in lagging geographical regions. These services include critical infrastructure such as water and sanitation, energy and reliable transportation and social services like health, education and social welfare. These efforts will be complemented by programs to enhance citizen and community participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of government service delivery.
In response to increasing levels of poverty and unemployment as a result of slower economic growth, the World Bank also approved funding for the Egypt Emergency Labor Intensive Investment Project which is designed to create a quarter million jobs. The US$200 million project, approved today by the Bank’s Board of Directors, will support employment opportunities for unemployed, unskilled and semi-skilled workers in those parts of Egypt where the need is most acute.
“This project is designed to support communities that are especially vulnerable to the effects of the economic slowdown,” said Alaa Hamed, World Bank team leader for the project. “With investments in public works such as the cleaning of canals and the rehabilitation of schools and rural roads, it will provide much needed income support and rehabilitate basic infrastructure in the targeted communities.”