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World Bank opens office in Suva

  World Bank Group’s relationship with the Fijian Government has strengthened further as its new office was opened yesterday on Level 4, Ra Marama House in Suva. Having a national
25 May 2016 12:01
World Bank opens office in Suva
World Bank Group Suva office staff (from left) Deva De Silva, Lasse Melguard, Taivei Kwan,, Mizuho Kida, Franz R. Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Siosaia Faletau, IFC acting Country Manager Gavin Murray, Antonia Wong and Benjamin Sikuri after the opening ceremony yesterday. Photo: RONALD KUMAR.

 

World Bank Group’s relationship with the Fijian Government has strengthened further as its new office was opened yesterday on Level 4, Ra Marama House in Suva.

Having a national presence here is hoped to mean faster action on the ground, and a better understanding of Fiji’s unique needs and development challenges by the World Bank.

World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands, Franz Drees-Gross, said this office will strengthen our work and collaboration with the Government of Fiji.

He said a stronger presence in Fiji will also allow them to support other Pacific Island states more effectively.

The office was officially opened yesterday by the Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who welcomed the move by the World Bank.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it was not only about accessing loan facilities but the ability to tap into other technical expertise through the World Bank.

He said this was very important given Fiji lacks a lot of technical skill sets which is required to put in place the foundations of a modern economy.

The International Finance Corporation is a member of the World Bank Group and will also have presence in Fiji now.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is confident of the IFC’s ability to play a very critical role in the private sector as well as Government’s plans for divestment of shares in some state owned enterprises.

“For the International Finance Corporation we have some exciting opportunities coming up, as the Government is focused on developing the private sector,” he said.

 

World Bank projects

The World Bank already supports a number of projects in Fiji, including a US$50 million loan for the Transport Infrastructure Investment Project, which aims to reduce the backlog of maintenance work on roads and maritime infrastructure.

Following Tropical Cyclone Winston in February, the World Bank is also preparing a US$50 million loan to the Fijian Government.

This is to support the immediate recovery needs of the country’s most vulnerable people through social protection assistance and reconstruction.

As a middle income country, Fiji is eligible for lending from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) – the World Bank’s fund for middle-income and creditworthy low-income countries.

The World Bank Group has been active in Fiji since the 1970s.

From 1971 to 1992 the government of Fiji borrowed US$153 million from the World Bank for 13 projects, which have all been repaid.

Since 1980 International Finance Cooperation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has invested US$28.5 million in seven projects, the most recent being a US$5 million equity investment as a cornerstone investor in Vision Investments Limited.

The World Bank Group’s activities in Fiji are guided by the 2015-2017 Country Engagement Note.

This is a 24-month programme to strengthen the partnership with the government of Fiji, deepen the World Bank’s knowledge base of the country and support critical investments.

EDITED:RACHNA LAL

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

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