With a population of 355 million and the vast majority of people living in middle-income countries, the MENA region came into the Arab Spring with multiple strengths, including a young and educated population, strong resource base, and economic resilience that helped it weather the 2008/9 global financial crisis.
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TUNIS February 25, 2015 – The World Bank and Tunisia’s Ministry of Finance organized a two-day an orientation workshop this week entitled “Advancing Public Participation in the Budget Process—Linking ... Show More +Budget Analysis to Service Delivery Outcomes”. The training aimed to empower civil society and improve accountability by addressing the institutional bottlenecks and capacity gaps suffered by its stakeholders. With greater budget transparency worldwide, new opportunities have emerged for broader, more effective public participation to help influence budgetary outcomes. Budgets are key documents that lay out a government’s priorities in terms of policies and programs. Democratizing the budget process gives citizens a say in both policy and resource allocation, particularly at local levels. Budget transparency is a prerequisite for public participation and accountability.“Establishing a budget from a revenue perspective is essential” said Mrs. Olfa Soukri, parliamentarian and rapporteur to the finance committee within the House of People’s Representatives. “Citizens need to be able to access budget details per project and ministry but more importantly per region, governorate and district.”In the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has seen an impressive increase in civil society organizations covering a multitude of sectors including fiscal transparency, access to financial information, local budget monitoring, and budget analyses. The activities of these societies range from monitoring how funds are allocated and spent from the grassroots to national levels. Tunisia has joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and listed disclosure of budget information as key to its OGP action plan.Eileen Murray, Resident Representative at the World Bank office in Tunis, opened the workshop, saying Tunisia was to be one of the first countries in the region to make budget data available to the public in user friendly formats. “The World Bank is very pleased to have had the opportunity to support the Ministry of Finance in this initiative for the development of the Tunisia Open Budget Portal,” she said. The portal will allow the public free access to budget data through the Ministry of Finance official webpage.This training workshop was also seen as a first step towards supporting an open government initiative in a decentralized government environment. It aimed to contribute toward creating foundations for citizen engagement in the decentralization process, and to encourage debate in forthcoming local elections. The objective was also to expand the capacity of Think Tanks and Civil Society Organizations working on issues related to fiscal transparency. Transparency mechanisms include using existing data on budget allocation and expenditure; understanding key entry points for budget analysis to help motivate social accountability; knowing how to present and disseminate such analysis in an user friendly format using “budget briefs”; and becoming “enablers of public dialogue” by learning how to argue for improvement.Mrs Aicha Karafi, Director General and the Ministry of Finance representative to the OGP pilot finance committee highlighted "The development of the Open Budget Platform and putting it online contributed to the achievement of the ministry’s financial transparency policy and constitutes a key commitment for Tunisia’s OGP action plan” .In addition to the governance program, the World Bank Group has a Development Policy Loan series and a portfolio of 22 investment and technical assistance operations in Tunisia. This includes 10 loans for about US$1 billion and 12 grants for $51 million focused on water and sanitation, wastewater, decentralization, financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises, higher education and rural development in underdeveloped regions. Show Less -
ERBIL, February 24, 2015 – The World Bank Group and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)-Iraq, launched today a social protection program of support to promote equity in living standards and reduce... Show More + vulnerability. The program is aligned with the government’s efforts to develop a comprehensive social protection system and contributes to the goals of KRGs Vision 2020 of “freedom, health, welfare, economic security and opportunity for people.”Today’s launch of the technical cooperation program which follows the signing of four technical assistance activities between the World Bank Group and the Kurdistan Regional Government-Iraq (KRG) in November 2014, was held under the auspices of KRG Minister of Planning Ali Sindi. The event was attended by government officials, civil society representatives, parliamentarians, and development and international organizations experts.“We are pleased to have the experience of the World Bank Group to enhance social protection systems in the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq,” said Minister Sindi. “The World Bank will support KRG to meet objectives set out in in Vision 2020, which starts with ‘Putting People First’ as the initial chapter.” Discussions revolved around the different phases of the program including scope, objectives, timeframe and implementation. Global and regional trends in social protection were highlighted and emphasis was placed on how they relate to the local context of social protection systems in KRG.“The World Bank is supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq in its overall socio-economic development,” said Robert Bou Jaoude, World Bank Special Representative for Iraq. “Social protection programs are a critical element in building resilience so that people are better equipped to face shocks and crisis.”The technical cooperation program comprises four activities: stock-taking, benchmarking and assessment of targeting effectiveness; a consultation process; the development of the KRG Social Protection Strategic Framework; and the dissemination process.An inter-ministerial Steering Committee (SC) is being established to guide the work. The SC will ensure that the work done responds to the requirements of the technical cooperation program and is in line with the KRG Vision 2020. It will also overlook the work of the technical groups and maintains clear open channels for coordination and data sharing amongst all key institutions. The Steering Committee will be chaired by the Ministry of Planning, and will include senior representatives from the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Health; Kurdistan Region Statistical Office; and technical advisors from the Council of Ministers.“The development of the Kurdistan Regional Government Social Protection Strategic Framework will be guided by global best practices,” said Ghassan Alkhoja, World Bank Senior Social Protection Specialist and Task Team Leader. “However, policy options will be presented in a manner consistent with the local KRG context and implementable within a 3-5 year implementation horizon.” Show Less -
The World Bank Group’s second round of discussions with various stakeholders throughout Egypt is taking place this week in Cairo, Alexandria and Aswan to prepare for a new partnership strategy which w... Show More +ill guide the Group’s engagement in the country over the next five years. The 2015-2019 Country Partnership Framework (CPF) aims at supporting Egypt’s development priorities consistent with the regional strategy of the World Bank Group in the Middle East and North Africa and the World Bank Group’s overarching goal of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The consultations around the CPF were launched last year and benefited from a wide spectrum of input from the government, civil society, youth, private sector, academia and development partners. Furthermore, online consultation took place to maximize reaching out to online users and listen to their development priorities. The purpose of the current consultations is to report back to the participants from last year’s meetings on the progress so far, and how their input has been taken on board. In parallel, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, is holding meetings with private sector representatives “We are very pleased to come back to our stakeholders and inform them on how we made use of their valuable input and feedback on how best we can support Egypt. We are very pleased to reach out to various governorates especially those in Upper Egypt,” said Gerard Byam, World Bank’s Acting Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa region. The Country Partnership Framework will be officially presented to the World Bank Group’s Board of Directors in May 2015 after it has been discussed with the Government of Egypt.Consultations in Upper Egypt demonstrate the significance of lagging regions as a development priority for Egypt and also underline the World Bank’s keen interest in listening to input and feedback from stakeholders across the country.The CPF is a joint document of the three WBG institutions - the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) - and will build on their respective strengths and areas of expertise. The World Bank Group in Egypt: The current portfolio of the World Bank Group in Egypt includes 26 projects for a total commitment of US$5.4 billion in FY15, including 17 IBRD lending operations ($5.27 billion) and 9 major Trust Funds ($139.6 million). The World Bank finances projects for faster delivery of benefits to the people of Egypt in key sectors including energy, transport, water and sanitation, agriculture and irrigation as well as health and education. Between FY11-14, IFC committed a total of almost $1.1 billion in 20 projects (of which $392 million is mobilization). IFC has focused on supporting companies with the ability to create jobs, boosting access to finance for small and medium enterprises, and demonstrating Egypt's long-term potential to investors. IFC has also worked on promoting regulatory reforms designed to spur economic growth; and boosting the skills of young job seekers.In FY2013, MIGA issued a guarantee for US$150 million, reinsuring the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s coverage to Apache Corporation for the exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas helping to keep up the supply of energy with the growing domestic demand. Show Less -