Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 26 n° 170

Posts Tagged ‘world bank’

World Bank to Help Bosnia and Herzegovina with Energy Savings

Posted by fidest on Saturday, 15 March 2014

World_BankWASHINGTON. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a credit in the amount of US$32 million for the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) Energy Efficiency Project. The project aims to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency improvements in public buildings throughout the country and support the development of scalable energy efficiency financing models.BH has recognized the importance of energy efficiency in supporting sustainable economic growth and moving towards EU accession. As a member of the Energy Community Treaty, BH has developed a draft National Energy Efficiency Action Plan that includes an indicative energy savings target of nine percent by 2018. Efficiency improvements in buildings are expected to make a significant contribution to achieving this target.
It is expected that a total of approximately 85 public buildings – mainly schools and hospitals – will be retrofitted under the project, making them more energy efficient. Due to its focus on public education and healthcare facilities, the project will directly benefit some of the often most vulnerable sections of society, particularly, children and hospital patients.“This project will support the country’s national development strategy by promoting economic growth, development, and employment in the construction sector,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Herzegovina. “In addition, improved energy efficiency will lead to a decrease in fuel consumption for heating as well as reduced carbon emissions into the air, which will have a particularly positive impact in larger urban areas during winter periods.”Overall, energy efficiency improvements in the public sector reduce energy expenditures and can create fiscal space for other development priorities. In BH, implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency measures in healthcare and educational facilities throughout the country could reduce public expenditures by about US$25 million per year.The World Bank portfolio of active projects in BH now includes 12 operations totaling approximately US$454.6 million. Areas of support include agriculture, environment, forestry, health, social safety and employment, local infrastructure, and private sector development.

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World Bank Group Statement on Ukraine

Posted by fidest on Saturday, 15 March 2014

washingtonWASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 – The World Bank Group has received a request for support from the interim Ukrainian government and stands ready to continue supporting the Ukrainian people. The World Bank Group aims to support reforms and provide up to US$3 billion in 2014.“We are committed to supporting the people of Ukraine in these difficult times and very much hope that the situation in the country stabilizes soon,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We are moving forward with our pipeline of projects and aim to support the government to undertake the reforms badly needed to put the economy on a path to sustainability.”As the country’s long-term development partner, the World Bank Group has been implementing an on-going investment and guarantee program of about US$3.7 billion, supporting improved basic public service delivery in areas such as water supply, sanitation, power and roads, and supporting the private sector.Ukraine’s economy is facing a number of serious challenges that will require urgent action in the short term as well as sustained reform over the medium and longer term. Priorities will need to be given to restoring macroeconomic stability, strengthening the banking sector, reforming the energy sector, seriously tackling corruption and improving accountability, enhancing the investment climate and better targeting social assistance towards the poor and the vulnerable. The World Bank Group stands ready to assist the government with formulating and implementing a comprehensive program of structural reforms to address these challenges.

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World Bank Group President Meets Prime Minister of Ukraine

Posted by fidest on Thursday, 13 March 2014

World_BankWASHINGTON World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim met today with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss the current situation in the country and World Bank Group assistance to Ukraine. President Kim expressed hope that the situation in Ukraine will stabilize soon and confirmed the Bank’s commitment to further supporting people of Ukraine during the difficult transition.“We recognize the enormous challenges Ukraine is facing and welcome the government’s commitment to undertake reforms that are urgently needed to stabilize the economy and put the country back on a path to sustainable growth and development,” Kim said. “We are committed to continue supporting the Ukrainian people.”On March 10, the World Bank Group announced that it aims to support reforms in Ukraine and provide up to US$3 billion in 2014. This assistance would come on top of the ongoing investment and guarantee program of about US$3.7 billion, supporting improved basic public service delivery in areas such as water supply, sanitation, power and roads, and supporting the private sector.

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World Bank loan assists FYR Macedonia in better access to skills, knowledge, and technology

Posted by fidest on Thursday, 30 January 2014

World_BankWASHINGTON The World Bank Board of Directors today approved the Skills Development and Innovation Support Project of US$24 million for FYR Macedonia. The Project aims to improve transparency of resource allocation and promote accountability in higher education, enhance the relevance of secondary technical vocational education, and support innovation capacity in FYR Macedonia.“Improving the country’s labor market performance and economic competitiveness will require a more skilled and better educated labor force, as well as increased technology absorption, and diffusion of knowledge and innovation,” explains Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Country Manager for FYR Macedonia. “At the same time, the regulatory, institutional, and financial environment can be strengthened to further promote innovation at the firm level and to improve the commercial application of its academic science and technology assets.”The Project will benefit around 24,000 students and 1,500 teaching and management staff from technical vocational education and training institutions who would receive a new curriculum and practical training facilities, as well as training on management, planning, and process improvement. Students and staff of universities, research institutions, and enterprises will benefit from the implementation of quality assurance mechanisms and financing reform in higher education, and also from grants promoting R&D and innovation.“The project is designed to foster education and skills relevant to the job market, and enhance the country’s innovation capacity,” says Bojana Naceva, Senior Education Specialist in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia region and Task Team Leader of the project. “The activities of the firms in Macedonia oriented towards employing a skilled workforce and utilizing innovation are an important source of economic growth and generate related positive externalities, such as social inclusion and shared prosperity.”The Skills Development and Innovation Support Loan is issued by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), and will cover US$24 million with an 18-year bullet maturity and 5-year grace period.

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World Bank Assists Montenegro with Energy Savings

Posted by fidest on Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Montenegro

Montenegro (Photo credit: the MaGe)

WASHINGTON, The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a EUR 5 million (US$6.8 million equivalent) Additional Financing for the Energy Efficiency Project in Montenegro. The project will support the Government of Montenegro’s efforts to improve energy efficiency of public buildings, and strengthen capacity of energy efficiency service providers in Montenegro.The original project in the amount of EUR 6.5 (US$9.4 million equivalent) was approved in 2008 and has achieved very good results – total of 15 public sector facilities were retrofitted to make them more energy efficient (9 in the education sector and 6 in the health sector). Energy savings in the range of 30-65% have been achieved in each of the completed facilities.The additional financing will scale up project activities to enhance the impact of a well performing project and finance investments in health facilities in the country to make them more energy efficient. About 12-14 hospitals and health care centers throughout the country will be encompassed by the project. The project activities are planned to be completed by March 31, 2017.“The World Bank recognizes the importance of efficient energy utilization in Montenegro as the country imports significant amount of electricity to meet the needs of its consumers,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank Country Manager for Montenegro. “Montenegro adopted its first National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) for 2010-2012, followed by the adoption of the indicative energy saving target of 9% until 2018, and the World Bank is happy to contribute to that target with this project.”The Energy Efficiency Project not only contributes to the energy savings but also has an important role in the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Law, which assigned a central role for the promotion of energy efficiency to the Ministry of Economy, as well as energy efficiency obligations for public administration bodies.

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Many Societies Gradually Moving to Dismantle Gender Discrimination, Yet More Can Be Done, Says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim

Posted by fidest on Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Eritrean women

Eritrean women (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

London, September 24, 2013 —A new World Bank and IFC report finds legal and regulatory barriers to women’s economic inclusion have decreased over the past 50 years globally, but many laws still hinder women’s participation in the economy. Laws restricting women’s economic activity are currently most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.The third in a series, Women, Business and the Law 2014: Removing Restrictions to Enhance Gender Equality monitors regulations affecting women entrepreneurs and employees in 143 economies. This edition highlights reforms carried out over the past two years, examines the evolution of women’s property rights and legal decision making ability since 1960 and expands coverage to examine legal protections addressing violence against women.“Our latest edition of Women, Business and the Law shows that many societies have made progress, gradually moving to dismantle ingrained forms of discrimination against women,” said Kim. “Yet a great deal remains to be done.”This report finds 44 economies have made 48 legal changes, thus increasing women’s economic opportunities over the past two years. Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, the Philippines and the Slovak Republic had the most reforms. Among the reforms, husbands can no longer unilaterally stop their wives from working in Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, the Philippines has lifted restrictions on night work for women, and the Slovak Republic increased the percentage of wages paid during maternity leave.The report finds economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the most extensive lists of jobs women cannot do. For example, in the Russian Federation women cannot drive trucks in the agricultural sector, in Belarus they cannot be carpenters and in Kazakhstan they cannot be welders. These restrictions may have arisen from a desire to protect women, but can limit their employment options. The report shows economies with the most job restrictions on women have lower female participation in the formal labor force.
Between 1960 and 2010, more than half the restrictions on women’s property rights and ability to conduct legal transactions were removed in the 100 economies examined. Restrictions in three regions – Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and East Asia and the Pacific – were cut in half. While some restrictions were removed in South Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa, these two regions reformed the least.Another major innovation in the report is new data on the existence and scope of laws on two areas of violence against women: sexual harassment and domestic violence. Covering 100 economies, the data show that prohibitions against sexual harassment in the workplace are widespread – 78 economies have legislation and over half of these criminalize the behavior. Legislation on domestic violence is also widespread –76 economies have laws prohibiting domestic violence. The region with the fewest laws on domestic violence is the Middle East and North Africa.
The report shows lower gender legal parity is associated with fewer women participating in firm ownership, while policies encouraging women to join and remain in the labor force are associated with greater income equality. Even though the report offers signs of improvement for women’s economic opportunities globally, it shows economies can do more to ensure women’s participation in economic life.
Women, Business and the Law measures how laws, regulations and institutions differentiate between women and men in ways that may affect women’s incentives or capacity to work or to set up and run a business. It analyzes legal differences on the basis of gender in 143 economies, covering six areas: gaining access to institutions, using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. The project provides a clear picture of gender gaps based on legal differences in each economy, but it does not capture the full extent of the gender gap, nor does it indicate the relative importance of each aspect covered. This year’s report was published by Bloomsbury Publishing.
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and development expertise for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in pursuing the World Bank Group’s mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world.

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World Bank Group to Invest $700 Million by 2015 to Improve Women and Children’s Health in Poor Countries

Posted by fidest on Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank Group building in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NEW YORK CITY. The United Nations, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will announce that the Bank Group projects at least $700 million in financing through the end of 2015 to help developing countries reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and children’s health. This new funding comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and will enable national scale-ups of successful pilot reproductive, maternal, and child health projects that were made possible by support from the Bank Group’s Health Results Innovation Trust Fund (HRITF) and IDA. This announcement follows President Kim’s September 2012 commitment to help scale up funding for MDGs 4 and 5 as part of the UN Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child global partnership.Today’s $700 million announcement comes on top of a September 2010 World Bank pledge to provide $600 million in IDA results-based financing for MDGs 4 and 5 by 2015; the World Bank has delivered on that pledge two years ahead of schedule. This support has contributed to global declines in maternal and child mortality and expanded access to health care for poor women and children.Through results-based financing, the World Bank Group is working with countries to shift the focus from paying for inputs to paying for results. Payment to health service providers is explicitly tied to the successful delivery and independent verification of pre-agreed results.
In Afghanistan, the number of women delivering their babies with the support of skilled birth attendants more than doubled from April 2010 to December 2012 in treatment facilities.
In Argentina, improved health services and accessibility for poor pregnant women and children led to a decrease in low birth weight and in-hospital deaths of babies in the first 28 days of life for program beneficiaries.
In Burundi, over just one year, births at health facilities rose by 25 percent, prenatal consultations went up by 20 percent, and the number of children fully vaccinated increased by 10 percent.
Further progress on women and children’s health will require a comprehensive approach to strengthening health systems, including investments beyond the health sector in critical areas such as water and sanitation, education systems, and labor markets. IDA’s country-based approach reinforces national health strategies and priorities while building on the World Bank Group’s areas of comparative advantage in providing a multi-sectoral and systems-based approach to improving health. The HRITF, supported by the Governments of Norway and the United Kingdom, in turn reinforces this by providing countries with incentives to scale up their investments through IDA.During the past decade from 2003 to 2013, financing support through IDA has led to:
Nearly 600 million children immunized
More than 194 million pregnant women provided with antenatal care
More than 29 million births attended by skilled health personnel
More than 210 million pregnant/lactating women, adolescent girls, and/or children under age five reached by basic nutrition services
The World Bank Group and Health, Nutrition and Population
The World Bank Group is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world, with the goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Improving health is integral to achieving these goals. The World Bank Group provides financing, state-of-the-art analysis, and policy advice to help countries expand access to quality, affordable health care; protect people from falling into poverty or worsening poverty due to illness; and promote investments in all sectors that form the foundation of healthy societies.

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World Bank Supports Efficient Public Finance Management in Russia

Posted by fidest on Sunday, 15 September 2013

WASHINGTON D.C. The World Bank’s Board of Directors today approved a US$50 million loan to co-finance with the Russian Federation a US$133.571 million Public Finance Management Technical Assistance Project in Russia. The project will assist the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Federal Tax Service, the Federal Treasury, the Ministry of Economic Development, and Rosfinnadzor to improve transparency and results focus in public financial management and build institutional foundations for improved budget efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.“The project directly supports one of the main themes of the Bank’s Country Partnership Strategy for the Russian Federation of improving governance and transparency,” said Michal Rutkowski, World Bank Country Director for Russia. “It will also help ensure that public investments and service delivery are more efficient and fiscally sustainable, in turn fostering income growth for the bottom 40 percent of the population. Taxpayers should benefit as a result of changes in the Federal Tax Service’s approach to taxpayer service and improved dispute resolution processes, and businesses can benefit from changes in tax policy and administration that contribute towards a better climate for business and investment.” The project’s strategic objectives will be achieved through support to the following four main areas of activity:
Enhancing the economic efficiency of Russia’s tax system through changes in key areas of tax policy and improving the services provided to taxpayers by the Federal Tax Service, Streamlining methods of financing the country’s sub-national governments, strengthening their focus on results at all stages of the budget cycle, and building their capacity to manage public finances, Enhancing the quality, flow and accessibility of budget information through implementation of an integrated financial management information system ( E-budget), contributing to improved transparency and accountability, and Strengthening budget preparation, control and monitoring processes to ensure greater focus on expenditure efficiency, effectiveness and results. The project is designed to help achieve the following results:
Reduced time spent by small and medium sized enterprises on tax calculation and payment, as measured by the Doing Business Indicators,
Increased number of regions with satisfactory performance in public finance management, Improved budget transparency scores for Russia, as measured by the Open Budget Index, and Increased use of performance measures in the federal budget, to depict the goals and results of government spending programs. The project builds on a long history of cooperation between Russia and the Bank in the areas of budgeting, tax policy and tax administration. This includes the Regional Fiscal Technical Assistance Project, Fiscal Federalism and Regional Fiscal Reform Project, two Tax Administration Modernization Projects, and the Treasury Development Project. The new project will support the strategic directions for change that have already been laid out by the Government in policy documents on tax policy and administration, budget efficiency and inter-budgetary relations, and E-budget.Over the past few years, the Russian Federation has undertaken significant public financial management and institutional reforms, incorporating good international practice and laying the foundations for a modern public finance management system. The most notable achievements include:The successful implementation of a modern Treasury Accounting System and a single treasury account,The regulation of the overall budget process and introduction of three-year federal budgets,The creation of the Oil Stabilization Fund, The reform of regional fiscal relations and the establishment of fiscal rules for the sub-national governments, andThe modernization of the tax administration, leading to a cultural shift from the traditional command-and-control approach to a modern service-oriented approach.“Notwithstanding these reforms, revenue shortfalls across all government levels, inefficient budget spending, weak investment in public infrastructure modernization, and rigid financial management models in public institutions hamper the government’s ability to pursue an effective fiscal and economic policy,” said John Ivor Beazley, World Bank Lead Public Sector Specialist and Team Leader for the Project. “These problems are especially acute at the regional and local levels, where they are exacerbated by a weak revenue base, under-funding and widely different degrees of public finance management capacity. Also, the challenges of improving the efficiency of revenue and expenditure management are not new but they have been exposed and aggravated by the global financial crisis.”The project will be financed by a Technical Assistance Loan on IBRD terms, with project implementation over a four-year period. Most of the financing will be for technical assistance. US$3.275 million has been allocated for the purchase of hardware and software to create the infrastructure of information and reference services to taxpayers in the local tax offices.Russia joined the World Bank (IBRD-member and IDA-donor country) in 1992. Today, IBRD is financing 9 investment projects in Russia for the total amount of US$596 million.Given Russia’s size and strong financial position, engagement with the World Bank Group has been selective and strategic. Over the last 20 years, the Bank has worked with Russia on maintaining prudent macroeconomic policies, making public administration more efficient, restructuring the health sector and educating children starting from kindergarten age. IFC’s strategy in Russia is to support private sector development and encourage economic growth.

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World Bank Group Supports Poland in Boosting Shared Prosperity

Posted by fidest on Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The World Bank & Inspection Panel's headquarte...

The World Bank & Inspection Panel’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON. The World Bank Group’s Board of Directors discussed today a Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Poland for 2014-2017. The new strategy is a four-year business plan that sets out the framework of cooperation between the Government of Poland and the World Bank Group.Under the new strategy, the World Bank Group will support the Government’s shared prosperity agenda and help foster sustainable income growth for the 40 percent of the population with the lowest income. This work will include activities that improve competitiveness (business environment, innovation support, public finance), equity and inclusion (labor market, reduction of regional disparities, health and aging), and sustainability (climate change policy, flood protection, resource-efficient infrastructure). The new strategy program is aligned with the Government’s own priorities as well as with the EU2020 agenda of smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth.“Poland’s partnership with the World Bank Group is based on mutual trust and on the recognition that the Bank Group can add value to Poland’s reform efforts,” said Ms. Mamta Murthi, Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries. “Our program is increasingly based on knowledge services, to share global experience with the authorities.”“The Government very much values our partnership with the World Bank Group”, responded Jacek Dominik, Deputy Minister of Finance. “With the new strategy we have access to expert knowledge and to the lessons learned in other countries, which is often critical to inform our own reform process.”Under the new strategy, the World Bank Group intends to provide support through a combination of analytical and advisory services. The World Bank Group is also planning to continue to provide financial support – with a planned lending envelope of US$3.2 billion. The financial support may be adjusted throughout the new strategy period to reflect the country’s economic circumstances, the speed of the government’s reforms, as well as the availability of IBRD resources. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which focuses on private sector development, will seek to strengthen Poland’s private sector through development of critical infrastructure, including via public private partnerships, as well as through climate-friendly investments, and support to Polish companies investing in other emerging markets.This new strategy coincides with Poland’s emergence as a global development partner that can contribute to the development of other countries. Poland adopted a law on development cooperation in 2011 and is developing a bilateral aid program. Efforts during the new strategy will aim to seek and leverage synergies between these programs and that of the World Bank Group.“Poland’s achievements have been impressive over the last two decades. There are important lessons to be learned from Poland’s experience that can help other countries,” said Xavier Devictor, World Bank Country Manager for Poland and the Baltic Countries. “We’re eager to help Poland share its experiences and inform debate in other countries.”Over the last two decades, Poland has made remarkable progress on the economic and social front, with GDP per capita rising from slightly above US$2,000 in the early 1990’s to more than US$12,500 in 2012 (adjusted for price differences). Between 2008 and 2011, Poland’s performance was strong by regional standards. Yet, the economy is now going through a slowdown with economic growth expected at around 1 percent in 2013, unemployment on the rise, and the lowest-earning 40 percent of the population disproportionately affected.According to Marek Belka, Governor of the National Bank of Poland, “Poland’s relationship with the World Bank is a partnership of choice. We are looking forward to a further close cooperation – for the Bank to share with Poland the lessons of international experience, and for Poland to share with the Bank the lessons of its own experience. This is not a donor-recipient relationship, but a two-way knowledge partnership, based on mutual trust and on the recognition that such a partnership can bring value to both parties.”

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World Bank Supports Improved Access to Health Services in Tajikistan

Posted by fidest on Friday, 2 August 2013

WASHINGTON, The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$19.8 million grant for the Tajikistan Health Services Improvement Project, which aims to improve maternal and child health outcomes by increasing the coverage and quality of basic primary health care services in rural health facilities of Tajikistan.The new Project is being financed through a US$15 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) and US$4.8 million from the multi-donor Health Results Innovation Trust Fund (HRITF). The Government of Tajikistan contributed an additional US$3.20 million to the project.
The Project seeks to improve primary health care services in the districts of the Khatlon and Sughd regions through: 1) piloting the use of performance-based incentives to primary health care facilities; 2) training primary health care doctors and nurses; 3) physical rehabilitation and renovation of selected primary health care facility infrastructure and provision of basic medical equipment; and 4) building capacity at the central, regional, and district levels to manage and implement the performance-based financing scheme.The proposed project will be implemented in eight districts of Tajikistan, covering 1.86 million people, representing around 25 percent of the country’s population.“Residents of Tajikistan regularly raise concerns about access to and quality of primary health care. Working with the Government and concerned citizens, the project aims to address these concerns using a tested, innovative approach to improve performance of primary healthcare providers,” said Marsha Olive, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “By making primary health care facilities, including those in remote areas, more effective in providing services to the population, we strive to make families healthier and better off in the future.”Since 2000 the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Tajikistan in strengthening the country’s health sector through programs that supported the introduction and implementation of health reforms, including per capita financing for primary healthcare, strengthening capacity of medical workers, and rehabilitation of infrastructure. Given the problem of childhood malnutrition in Tajikistan, the World Bank also supports the provision of micronutrient supplements and nutrition education to women and children through a grant from the Japan Social Development Fund.As the World Bank commemorates its 20 years of partnership with Tajikistan this year, the human development sector continues to play an important role in the Bank’s overall portfolio. As a result, over 4,000 healthcare system workers received training, and 20 percent of country’s Primary Health Care network has been completely renovated.As of June 2013, the active portfolio of the World Bank in Tajikistan currently consists of 14 projects with a net commitment of US$232.6 million. The largest share of the portfolio is in agriculture and rural development (40 percent), followed by water and sanitation (15 percent), human development (14 percent), energy (13 percent), the public sector (12 percent), and the private sector (6 percent).

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Romania Modernizes Revenue Administration

Posted by fidest on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

WASHINGTON.The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the EUR70 million Revenue Administration Modernization project for Romania. Through this project, the World Bank is partnering with the country to increase effectiveness and efficiency in the collection of taxes and social contributions; increase tax compliance; and reduce the administrative burden on taxpayers to comply with their responsibilities under the tax laws. The National Agency for Fiscal Administration (NAFA) will manage the implementation of the project.Modernization of revenue administration is an important component of the Government’s economic reform program. Despite recent fiscal adjustment efforts, the external environment in Europe and weak growth in Romania will continue to pose a risk to macroeconomic stability. Given the limited headroom for new spending there is a strong interest in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of revenue collection. The government of Romania places importance on an effective tax administration that can encourage voluntary compliance and deal with tax evasion in a more efficient and technology-aided environment.The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2013 shows that in Romania there is still much to be done to improve the ease of paying taxes and reduce the high number of tax payments. Also, Romania has a large number of small taxpayers facing a complex tax regime – both taxpayers and NAFA must use resources to manage their responsibilities disproportionate to the revenue contribution made by this segment of the economy.Revenue performance gains during the boom years of 2004-07 were modest with the revenue-GDP ratio rising from 27.2 to 29.0 percent; while revenue losses during the recession were severe, with tax-GDP ratio dropping back to 27.2 percent in 2010. Romania’s tax efficiency index is one of the lowest in EU countries, at 54 percent and 61 percent for VAT and social contributions respectively.Investments in key government institutions, including and not limited to revenue administration, are an important pre-condition for Romania to continue its convergence with the European Union.A modernized NAFA means one that is more efficient and effective. In general, a modern tax administration will seek to minimize direct contact with the taxpayer, and taxpayer service is provided through the use of a robust self-service website, through an accessible call center, and other means available. Reduced physical contact also minimizes opportunities for corrupt behavior. The project will implement an improved taxpayer service function to meet these challenges. Once the project will be completed, NAFA staff will be properly trained and distributed across the organization, with a focus on staff re-assignment to key areas such as audit and debt collection.The development of the project design has been informed by past work, including a recent World Bank functional review of the Ministry of Public Finance, several International Monetary Fund (IMF) diagnostic reports, and various European Union (EU) studies. There are four main project components: (1) institutional development; (2) increasing operational effectiveness and efficiency; (3) taxpayer services and corporate communication; and (4) project coordination and management. The loan is a LIBOR-based Euro single currency IBRD Flexible Loan plus fixed spread, with 12-year maturity, including a five-year grace period, with level repayment pattern. The expected effectiveness date is October 2013.

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World Bank Continues to Support Croatia’s Innovation Potential

Posted by fidest on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

WASHINGTON.The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the Second Science and Technology Project (STP II) in the amount of EURO20 million (USD$26.24 million equivalent). STP II will help those involved in research and innovation, including public research institutions, scientific communities, high performing scientists, and young researchers, to fully benefit from EU accession by increasing their capacity to apply for and implement EU-funded projects.STP II builds on a successful previous Science and Technology Project designed to strengthen Croatia’s innovation potential and increase its competitiveness by supporting the design and implementation of R&D programs managed by the Business Innovation Croatian Agency (BICRO) and the Unity through Knowledge Fund (UKF). It also assisted public research organizations to commercialize their research and improve the collaboration with the business sector.STP II will continue to support programs for small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) and scientists helping them to benefit from EU funds. This will be done by assisting selected public sector institutions design proposals and implement projects financed by EU funds. Through R&D financing, the project will help stimulate the demand for EU funds from the business and scientific communities, particularly SMEs, high performing scientists, and young researchers.“Experience from other EU member states shows that efficient use of EU funds for R&D and innovation has led to growth and productivity increases as well as creation of high skilled jobs, including for youth and women. This is of particular importance in times of economic crisis when public and private investments in R&D and innovation are limited.” said Mamta Murthi, Country Director for Central Europe and the Baltic Countries. “It is, therefore, vital for Croatia to seize the opportunity and efficiently use the forthcoming EU funds to further boost Croatia’s innovation potential. We are very pleased that Croatia has again chosen the World Bank to partner in this effort.”Since joining the World Bank in 1993, Croatia received support from the global development institution in the form of financial and technical assistance, policy advice, and analytical services. To date, the Bank has supported 48 projects in the amount of US$3.3 billion, and it has approved 52 grants with a total value of US$70 million.

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World Bank Sees Climate Change Cutting Crop Production in Eastern Europe and Central Asia by over 25 Percent unless Action Is Taken Now

Posted by fidest on Friday, 5 April 2013

WASHINGTON In parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, climate change is poised to hamper food production and curb rural incomes over the next decades unless farmers get the help they need through improved water management and irrigation infrastructure, wider access to technology and information, and better land management and farming practices. Although governments throughout the region face rapidly narrowing windows of opportunity to protect farmers from climate change, there are actions that can be taken now to promote a new “climate-smart” approach to agriculture that improves agricultural productivity in today’s climate, while building resilience to climate change and reducing carbon emissions.Defining the policy and investment options available to governments – based on a rigorous evaluation of impacts of climate change on agricultural systems – is the aim of a new book published today by the World Bank, Looking Beyond the Horizon: How Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Responses Will Reshape Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.This new publication distills the experiences of four countries – Albania, Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) Macedonia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan – that considered the future of their agricultural sectors under a number of climate change scenarios and examined each system’s capacity to cope with weather variability. Through economy-wide modeling of water supply and demand, the analysis found that, in many cases, water availability for irrigation will be severely curtailed by climate change. This will greatly exacerbate the effects of climate change on crops – especially irrigated crops – with potential yield reductions of 20–50 percent by 2050.The book also highlights the customized menu of climate change adaptation options devised by national experts and a World Bank team for each of the four countries. The adaptation options include practical measures such as improvement of crop varieties, investment in irrigation infrastructure, dissemination of timely and reliable weather forecasts to farmers, nutrient management and soil conservation, and livestock health and nutrition.The menus of adaptation options were prioritized for the various agricultural zones of all the countries according to rates of return on investment, acceptability to local farmers, applicability under different climate conditions, and the potential to reduce climate-change inducing greenhouse gas emissions. In several instances, the countries have already begun to put into action some of the recommendations. Within any economy, agriculture is one of the most sensitive sectors to climate change. In Albania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, and Uzbekistan the risks are even more immediate and important given that the majority of the rural populations depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The rural poor stand to be disproportionately affected by climate change because of this dependence, and because of their very limited access to the resources needed to adapt to shifting weather patterns. In the case of the four countries that participated in this program, all are projected to experience higher temperatures of 1.5 – 2.0 degrees C by 2050, and, on top of that, rainfall in Albania, FYR Macedonia, and Moldova is expected to decrease. More significantly for farmers in each of the four countries is that temperature increases and rainfall declines are expected to be greater in June to August, critical months for crop production.While the approach to analyzing climate change impacts, assessing adaptive capacity, and determining the costs and benefits of policy options and farm-level responses was tested in four countries in the Europe and Central Asia region, the three authors, Sutton, Srivastava, and James E. Neumann, emphasize that this model is sufficiently flexible – and yet necessarily rigorous – to be undertaken in any country.“We believe it is urgent and central to understand the scope of climate change, its impacts on agriculture, and the possible responses in this region. This study aims to address these concerns by building awareness about climate change in our client countries and to work with them to offer practical climate smart solutions,” said Dina Umali-Deininger, Agriculture and Rural Development Sector Manager in the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region.In fact, in his recent speech at Georgetown University, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim called for increased investments in climate-smart agriculture. Complementing this call for climate-smart agriculture, the publication examines the scope for climate change impacts across a wide range of the most important crops in each agricultural area of the four countries and considers future production changes under three increasingly severe climate modeling scenarios. It also maps out clear, concrete adaptation responses to arrest production declines in each crop, from giving farmers access to better meteorological information through to improvements in drainage and irrigation.All four countries that partnered on this initiative have already begun undertaking some of the measures specified in the book, and the model is also now being applied to the agricultural sectors of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

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World Bank Approves GEF and PPCR-supported Project to Help Communities in Tajikistan

Posted by fidest on Monday, 1 April 2013

Washington. The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$14.85 million grant for the Tajikistan Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project, which aims to support more sustainable management of natural resources and increase the resilience of communities to climate change impacts.The Tajikistan Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project is being financed through a US$9.45 million grant from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience of the Strategic Climate Fund (PPCR) and a US$5.4 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund. Tajikistan is one of 18 countries participating in the PPCR supported by Multilateral Development Banks. In Tajikistan, the participating Banks are the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank.“Tajikistan is prone to natural disasters and it is assessed as the most vulnerable country to the impacts of future climate change in the Europe and Central Asia region. The project will help communities better understand how climate change may affect their land, water supply, livestock and crops. By using sustainable natural resource management practices that work well in Tajikistan, communities will have greater food security now and for the years to come,” said Marsha Olive, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan.The agriculture sector is important for Tajikistan, as it accounts for 21 percent of GDP and 64 percent of employment. The project aims to benefit farmers by helping them carry out more effective and sustainable production and land management practices, and thereby help build their resilience to climate change. The project will also support analytical work and capacity-building in areas related to climate change risks and adaptation, integrated land, water and grazing management, and incentive-based approaches for sustainable land management. The direct beneficiaries are expected to be at least 21,000 rural households or 126,000 people in selected project sites.Tajikistan’s trust fund portfolio — one of the largest in Europe and Central Asia — remains an important supplement to the resources from the International Development Association (IDA), accounting for about 30 percent of total combined commitments in 2010–12. The Tajikistan portfolio includes 47 trust-funded operations with US$87 million in commitments. The active portfolio of the World Bank in Tajikistan currently consists of 14 projects with a net commitment of around US$232.8 million. The largest share of the portfolio is in agriculture and rural development (27 percent), followed by energy (24 percent), water and sanitation (18 percent), human development – education, health, and social protection (24 percent), the private sector (4 percent), and the public sector (2 percent).

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BRICS development bank can rival IMF and World Bank

Posted by fidest on Thursday, 28 March 2013

Professor of International Business Geoffrey Wood believes the new BRICS development bank can rival the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank if it can reconcile its competing agendas. Leaders of the so-called BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – are in Durban putting together the new bank, which will initially focus on infrastructure and development projects. The BRICS nations make up 40 per cent of the world’s population and 17 per cent of world trade and though where it will be based and how much capital it will have is yet to be decided Professor Wood, of Warwick Business School, can see it becoming a big attraction for emerging markets.
“The track record of the IMF and World Bank austerity policies are very mixed, and there is little doubt that many nations would welcome an alternative to these bodies,” said the Warwick Business School Professor. “This is likely to make the BRICS development bank hugely influential if, indeed. But, in the short term, this is contingent on the extent to which it reconciles the competing agendas of the BRICS countries. “Most people assume that the current economic crisis has led to a great strengthening of the power of the World Bank and the IMF, and that this power is largely uncontested. What is interesting however, are the limits of the power of these bodies. “The aftermath of the Asian financial crisis saw a number of countries in Asia – and Russia as well – stockpiling foreign exchange reserves precisely so they did not have to make recourse to the IMF or World Bank again. “The proposed BRICS development bank represents an important new development, that, potentially further circumscribes the influence of these bodies. “The BRICS development bank will be extremely attractive to many developing countries who have had their fingers burned through engaging with the World Bank and the IMF. “In theory, the BRICS bank could erode the role and status of the IMF and the World Bank. However, the details of how the BRICS bank is governed and how it will operate remain unclear. What is even unclear is the amount of initial capitalization; very different sums of money are being bandied about. It will certainly be some years before the bank is operational, but in the long term it could have a significant impact.” The bank would have access to a huge and growing market, though the power struggle between the nations involved could lead to difficulties says Professor Wood.“China holds vast foreign exchange reserves and is likely to be, in some manner or other, the dominant player in the BRICS bank,” said Professor Wood.
“As the weakest BRICS member, South Africa has perhaps most to gain from establishing the bank, although all may gain from the international clout the new body may confer.“South Africa is the smallest BRICS member and has become increasingly reliant on minerals exports, which provide volatile revenue streams and, ultimately are a depleting resource.“South Africa could be faced by a balance of payments crisis in the future, and the BRICS bank could potentially be a lifeline for it.”

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