The World Bank Group has expressed its strong commitment to support democratic transition in Tunisia during talks held recently. This includes technical and financial support that the institution can offer to help Tunisia to revive its economy and its efforts to strengthen governance and foster economic and social inclusion.
Inger Andersen, Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa led the delegation accompanied by Simon Gray, Director for the Maghreb countries and Eileen Murray, Resident Representative of the World Bank in Tunisia.
The delegation members met with numerous senior government officials, representatives of the private sector, civil society organizations including women’s associations and youth groups. The theme of job creation was continuous through all the talks, especially in regions that were given less support in the past.
The World Bank is currently developing an Interim Strategy Note, which will reflect these consultations and other meetings that are ongoing, and to guide the program of support to Tunisia for the next two years. The bank has conducted, through Tunisia and poorest regions, many discussions with a wide range of heterogeneous groups of civil society, said the international institution.
Inger Andersen’s visit provided an opportunity to broaden consultations, and according to the recommendations of the government and other stakeholders, the World Bank’s support will be around strengthening of good governance and citizen participation, promoting economic and social inclusion and building the foundation for a renewal of sustainable growth.
“It was inspiring to visit Tunisia during this critical period as it emerges as a democracy,” said Andersen. “The actions of Tunisian citizens have lit a flame of optimism that we all need to feed and the World Bank is proud to support the transition of Tunisia. We understand the enormous pressure on the authorities to meet the needs of the population. The Bank is resolute in its support for Tunisia in its quest for better governance, since an open and transparent economy is critical for the country and the region. I am convinced that other development partners feel the same. ”
Inger Andersen acknowledged “the difficult global environment which Tunisia is facing, particularly in light of the widened economic crisis. This moment is too important to be lost, and we are committed to helping the economy to rebound quickly to provide better jobs and better lives.”
“Following discussions in recent days, the World Bank’s support for 2012-2013 seems well aligned with the priorities of the interim government which highlights social services with special attention to disadvantaged regions where the numbers of people living in poverty are at their highest. Teams from the World Bank will work with the government and other stakeholders in February and March to further refine this alignment. The Bank stands ready to provide significant financial support to Tunisia by the end of the year. This could be a combination of budget support similar to the $ 500 million that were made available directly from Tunisia after the Revolution and investment projects in key sectors such as vocational training and exporting development activities to help create jobs.”
“The immediate challenge facing the new Tunisian authorities is the management of a difficult macroeconomic situation hit by external shocks and the revival of social stability that will help create a space for increased investments to trigger the desired growth and job creation, “said Simon Gray.
In order to support the Government in its effort to develop policies based on concrete data, the Bank has also launched a series of studies with Tunisian counterparts in such areas as regional development, poverty, employment, youth inclusion, ICT, tourism, financial sector and trade integration with neighboring countries and across the Mediterranean.
One of the key demands of the revolution was access to information and transparency. The Vice President said that “transparent and reliable data are essential to establish sound policies. The Bank will ensure that these studies will be widely available in French and Arabic, and be accessible to the public through the web and other tools. ”
“The Bank works closely with the new government to find practical ways to provide support to the Tunisian population as it is getting down to reduce poverty in rural areas and to solve the problem of employment,” Eileen Murray said. “We are also committed to ensuring that women participate actively in all aspects of economic development.”