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WB's budgetary and technical support to Tunisia

Published the:  04/05/2011

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May 4, 2011 TAP - The World Bank (WB)'s budgetary support to Tunisia- US$ 500 million, that is nearly 670 million dinars (MTD)- is meant to give a boost to the Caretaker Government's efforts in the fields of access to information, freedom of association, transparency in public procurement and reform of civil service, WB President Robert Zoellick pointed out, on Wednesday in Tunis.
During a news conference at the end of his visit to Tunisia, on May 2-4, he specified that this support is part of a multi-donor effort and that the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Union (EU) and other donors were also supporting these strong reforms, with an additional US$ 700 million, nearly 938 MTD.
"Events taking place in Tunisia are historic, the Tunisian people are indeed, making history", Mr. Zoellick asserted.
He discussed with the Tunisian officials and civil society representatives such issues as governance, the process of the National Constituent Assembly's elections and "the messages that could be sent to international as well as local private investors" to relaunch the economy which is particularly affected by the drop recorded earnings of the tourism sector.
Job creation was also at the centre of the WB President's talks with the Tunisian officials. He pointed out, in this regard, that the World Bank is examining with the Employment Ministry efficiency of the various programs meant to energize employment for the benefit of higher-education graduates and other job seekers.
He added that among the other issues discussed with the Tunisian officials were the impediments, the off-shore sector had been suffering from in the past, regarding regulatory problems and inequality in granting privileges.
On the regional disparities, Mr. Zoellick recalled that WB had achieved two community projects in Tunisia's north-west, worth US$ 125 million, announcing that further efforts would be focused on the mid-west to support creation of micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as social development projects.
He said that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is in charge of operations with the private sector, has a committed portfolio of US$ 256 million in six companies, mostly in the financial and infrastructure sectors.
However, "we wish that we could further reinforce co-operation with the Tunisian private sector, thanks to the newly-born openness," WB Group President specified, while focusing "on small enterprises, assistance to develop exports and set up pilot projects".
Despite the challenges faced at this transitional stage, both on the political and economic planes, it is worth pointing out that the whole world vows respect for Tunisia, he asserted.
Mr. Zoellick recalled the invitation extended by France to Tunisia and Egypt to take part in the G8 meeting next May 26-27 in Deauville, France, during which "all chances of success for Tunisia and its people will be examined".
Answering a question on links between the political and economic transitions, Mr. Zoellick said that they are very tightly related, affirming, in this regard, that WB would keep on making its expertise available to Tunisia to guarantee inter-dependence between political and economic dimensions.
Actually, after a change towards democracy and good governance and promulgation of new laws to entrench them, it is important to attract new tourists and investors and improve business environment, while endeavoring to restore security and achieve regional integration, Mr. Zoellick pointed out.