World Bank signs two grant agreements to support employment and accountability
SANA’A, June 19, 2013 – The World Bank urged international donors to deliver on commitments to Yemen at a meeting in Sana’a today which focused on the country’s reform agenda and took stock of progress made so far.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the World Bank also signed two grant agreements with the Government of Yemen totaling US$9.2 million designed to underpin the sort of initiatives Yemen’s economy needs urgently to boost small businesses and help rebuild trust in public institutions.
The international donor meeting was held to track the delivery of aid pledges, assess the government’s implementation of commitments under their Mutual Accountability Framework and prepare the way forward for a high-level conference in September 2013.
Since the donor meeting in Riyadh in September last year organized by the World Bank, Saudi Arabia, the GCC Secretariat and the Government of Yemen, over US$7.9 billion was committed to support Yemen’s political transition. Today’s meeting, the second follow up, determined that a total of US$2 billion has been disbursed so far, US$6.7 billion (85%) has been allocated and US$3.5 billion (45%) has been approved by respective donors and the government of Yemen.
“Yemenis have shown great courage by embarking on a path towards peace and opportunity,” said Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. “The international community has, in return, committed its partnership backed by funds and knowledge to accompany Yemen on this journey. It is now of utmost urgency that we hold each other accountable to deliver on our promises if this historic transition is to live up to the expectations of the Yemeni people.”
On the government’s side, while there has been some progress in the implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework, both the government and donors agreed that more work is needed to ensure progress on economic reforms that will complement the political process currently underway in the National Dialogue.
In the run-up to the September 2013 conference, the World Bank and other development partners also committed to a calendar of priority policy reforms to help Yemen achieve economic growth through private sector-led job creation, transparency and assistance for the most vulnerable.
“Yemen needs exceptional technical and financial support now,” said Wael Zakout, Country Manager for Yemen. “Both donors and the government need to redouble efforts to demonstrate that commitments made are reaching the people of Yemen. Today’s meeting and the concrete plan of action which came out of it are important steps to ensure that Yemen continues down the road toward stability and shared prosperity for all its citizens.”
The World Bank grant agreements signed today are a small part of the organization’s larger US$900 million commitment and focused in areas where it is important for Yemen to demonstrate quick progress.
“With the signing of these two grant agreements, the World Bank aims to address some of the most important issues in Yemen today,” said Zakout. “Supporting job seekers and small businesses and restoring trust in institutions are fundamental to meeting the demands of the Yemeni people for better jobs and more accountability.”
The US$4.2 million Enterprise Revitalization and Employment Pilot Project (EREP) aims to improve youth employability and small and medium enterprise capabilities. The project will pilot an internship matchmaking program that aims to place up to 400 interns in Yemeni private businesses and pilot small-scale matching grants to finance business development plans for up to 400 firms seeking to improve products and processes or enter new markets.
The Public Finance Modernization Project provides US$5 million to scale up an existing project to improve the efficiency and transparency in the management of public finances. The project began in January 2011 with an initial cost of US$12 million. Since then, Yemen has faced security challenges and consequent interruption of disbursements and assistance from the Bank. The government financed an Accounting and Financial Management Information System pilot in line ministries from its own budget demonstrating its commitment to the program. This system is now established in 17 ministries and three governmental departments contributing to an improved budget execution, accounting and controls.
These new agreements come in addition to the US$231 million the World Bank has approved since the Riyadh donor conference and complements the ongoing programs which include over US$700 million in approved commitments.