SUNBIZ

World Bank Pacific Hub Office Opens In Suva

"The World Bank has officially opened a regional office in Suva yesterday, as part of efforts to increase its reach and service."
19 Mar 2019 18:01
World Bank Pacific Hub Office Opens In Suva
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was part of the agreement signing between the Government and the International Finance Corporation to help provide affordable and climate resilient homes. The signing took place in Suva on March 18, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

The World Bank has officially opened a regional office in Suva yesterday, as part of efforts to increase its reach and service.

This will serve as a regional hub for the development institution’s work across the region.

The increased footprint in Suva will ensure the World Bank Group can work in closer partnership with many of the region’s key bod­ies, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the Pacific Com­munity (SPC), and the University of the South Pacific (USP), as well as other development partners, to deliver even stronger development outcomes.

The new regional hub will be in­tegral to the World Bank Group’s delivery of more than FJ$1billion worth of projects across six coun­tries; Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

These projects are from a wide range of sectors including trans­port, aviation, information and communications technology, edu­cation, disaster resilience, fisher­ies, health and education, among others.

The new hub will allow for more staff to be based in the region and help countries meet their develop­ment challenges.

This is through their diverse range of expertise from economics, transport infrastructure, informa­tion communications and technol­ogy, to disaster resilience, recovery and risk financing.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khai­yum said: “We are honored to host the World Bank’s new regional of­fice here in Suva — a location that is proving a natural fit for organisa­tions of all sizes that are looking to make an impact in our region.

“The World Bank joins a number of other development organisa­tions, financial institutions and other regional players who are tak­ing full advantage of Fiji’s globally-recognised position as the hub of human capital, innovation, devel­opment and forward-thinking poli­cymaking in the Pacific.

“Our revolutionary Green Bond, our hospital Public Private Part­nership (PPP) with Aspen Medical.

“Our newly-announced affordable housing partnership are all exam­ples of recent innovations that have come about after the World Bank strengthened its engagement with Fiji and located staff in Suva three years ago.”

World Bank Group support

The World Bank and the Interna­tional Finance Corporation, IFC, both members of the World Bank Group, have significantly expanded their support for Fiji and the Pacif­ic, with World Bank funding to the region tripling since 2016.

“The opening of our new Pacific hub here in Suva reflects our com­mitment to supporting the devel­opment goals of the South Pacific, including Fiji,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

“Drawing on the wealth of knowl­edge that exists in the Pacific is es­sential to ensuring strong, sustain­able development outcomes in the region, and this new hub is an im­portant step for our partnerships and engagement in the Pacific to ensure they continue.”

IFC’s Director for East Asia and the Pacific, Vivek Pathak said: “IFC has also been working closely with the government on investment policy reforms to make Fiji more attractive for foreign and domestic investment with the drafting of an investment bill. Under our tourism work, we’ve studied the links be­tween agriculture and tourism and are actively working to see more Fi­jian produce on the tourists’ tables.

“It shows Fiji’s role as a regional hub.

“Therefore, it’s eminently appro­priate that we are all here today for this official opening of the World Bank Group office, which will serve as a regional hub for our work across the region – reflecting our commitment to the people of Fiji and in the South Pacific.

“We know the private sector is fun­damental to drive economic growth and creating jobs.

“Ninety per cent of the jobs around the globe are from the pri­vate sector, and in Fiji in the last three years all new jobs created has been by the private sector.

“With the private sector, we’re looking to stimulate the corporate bond market.

“The end game is to see corporates issuing bonds and listing them on the South Pacific Stock Exchange.

“We’re also working to see more private companies go public on the exchange – as we did with Vision In­vestments Limited in 2016.”

IFC invested as a cornerstone in­vestor and helped the Vision Invest­ments Limited to offer shares to the public through an initial public of­fering.

“We know the private sector is fundamental to creating jobs, so we are looking to increase our invest­ments and advisory work support­ing Fiji and other countries in the Pacific.

“We are exploring opportunities to help meet the needs for infrastruc­ture, tourism, retail and wholesale industries, and support small and medium sized businesses, as they are a key driver of jobs and eco­nomic growth.”

Establishment agreement

The opening of the new office fol­lows the signing of the Establish­ment Agreement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa, and IFC Country Manager for the Pacific, Tom Jacobs in August 2017.

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