WASHINGTON, December 11, 2013 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$5.2 million grant for the First Economic Reform Development Policy Operation to help strengthen the delivery of public services and improve the sustainability of public finances in Kiribati.
“Kiribati faces many challenges that are unique to small island nations, including remoteness from markets, a widely dispersed population, and vulnerability to economic shocks,” said Franz Drees-Gross, Country Director for the World Bank in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands. “This operation will enable the Government of Kiribati to address some of the current economic challenges the country faces by supporting policies that promote long-term economic sustainability.“
The First Economic Support Development Reform Operation is the first of two planned operations for the Government’s Economic Reform Plan. These operations will provide finance directly to the budget. This first operation focuses on three key areas: increasing revenue through tax reform and administration of fisheries resources; improving the management of public assets and liabilities; and expanding private sector opportunities, including through reform of the telecommunication sector.
“We are committed to building a stronger economy with sustainable economic development that will allow us to continue to invest in critical services such as health and education,” said Hon. Tom Murdoch, Kiribati’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development. “This operation contributes to the implementation of our Economic Reform Plan, which will help Kiribati be better prepared to deal with future external pressures, such as economic shocks, natural disasters and the longer-term challenge of climate change adaptation.”
Kiribati is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Made up of 33 low-lying islands spread over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean – an area the size of India - the population of around 100,000 people lives on 20 coral atolls and a single island.
The operation is funded through a US$5.2 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries.