Inger Andersen, Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank, led the discussions accompanied by Simon Gray, Country Director for the Maghreb, and Eileen Murray, the World Bank’s Tunis-based Resident Representative. The team met numerous government officials, private sector representatives, donor partners, and civil society organizations including women’s and youth groups. An underlying theme in all of the discussions was the need to support the creation of more jobs, particularly in regional areas.
Andersen acknowledged the tough global economic environment confronting Tunisia, particularly in view of the broader global economic crisis. “This moment is too important to lose though, and we are committed to helping the economy make a quick rebound to deliver better jobs and a better life.”
“The World Bank Group is proud to support Tunisia’s transition. We understand the enormous pressures on the authorities to deliver on the expectations of the people. The Bank is resolute in its support for Tunisia’s search for better governance, as a transparent and open economy is critical for Tunisia and for the region. I am convinced that other development partners feel the same,” she said.
The World Bank is currently preparing an Interim Strategy Report which will guide its program of support to Tunisia for the next two years. Based on recommendations from government and other stakeholders so far, World Bank support will be framed around three axes: renewed private sector-led growth and job creation, social assistance and economic inclusion, as well as governance and citizen participation in a transparent national dialogue. Budget support in key areas such as vocational training and export development activities is likely to be similar to last year’s $500m made available in the immediate aftermath of the revolution.
The World Bank currently supports 11 investment projects in energy, education, natural resources and community development, export development, and basic services (in water, sanitation, solid waste and waste water). The World Bank also provides technical assistance for the implementation of reforms undertaken by the government to improve governance and create economic opportunities, as well as innovative pilot projects to promote youth employment and service delivery in underserved areas.