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World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia makes his first visit to Georgia

June 14, 2010

Tbilisi, June 14, 2010 Mr. Philippe Le Houérou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, completed his June 11-14th visit to Georgia. The aim of his visit was to review the World Bank’s portfolio in Georgia and to discuss the recent economic and social developments, and the possible ways in which the World Bank can continue to support the economic recovery in the country.

“I am very pleased to see the strength of our portfolio as reflected in the high disbursement rate. This makes the Georgia program one of the best performing ones", said Philippe Le Houérou. “The World Bank is providing financing for programs to stimulate growth and new jobs, and support the poor and the vulnerable. These include key road works, social spending for the poor, water and municipal services, and the rehabilitation of primary health care centers and secondary schools".

Mr. Le Houérou visited World Bank supported project sites - a primary healthcare facility in Okami village, an IDP settlement in Berbuki, a road construction site along the East-West highway, the National Examination Center (NEC) and SCADA Power Control Center.

In the course of his visit, Philippe Le Houérou met with the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, during which he noted the country’s economic recovery and efforts to further strengthen it. Mr. Le Houérou underscored, that the World Bank is committed to working closely with the Government to ensure that the existing project portfolio is implemented successfully and more resources are secured to meet Georgia’s needs. The President underlined the need for additional financing and the importance of economic analysis from the World Bank to underpin the Government’s policy choices.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, the parties discussed the current state of the country's economy and prospects for deepening cooperation between the World Bank and Georgia. The Bank supports the Government in its efforts to maintain the course of economic reforms, even during the crisis, and strengthening the investment climate and social protection. The Bank supports the Government’s efforts towards fiscal consolidation. The Prime Minister and Mr. Le Houérou recognized the strategic importance for Georgia’s growth of the roads projects and the importance to ensure that the speed of the works goes hand in hand with the environmental safeguards. The Prime Minister emphasized the strong partnership and strategic character of the Bank-financed projects in priority sectors of the country's economy, and of the World Bank’s critical support on the Joint Needs Assessment (JNA).

Mr. Le Houérou also presented the Prime Minister with the World Bank Award for the Bank-supported effort for Georgia Post-Conflict JNA, as one of the 12 winners in the World Bank’s third annual competition ‘Improving the Lives of People in Europe and Central Asia.

Mr. Le Houérou was impressed by the remarkable joint endeavor of the Government, humanitarian agencies, and donor organizations, including the World Bank, that enabled the provision of durable housing to IDPs within four months after the conflict and before the onset of the winter.

During the course of his stay, Philippe Le Houérou visited the high mountainous region of Svaneti, and was also able to visit the Black Sea coast town of Batumi and witness its rapid development. On both trips he was accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Kakha Baindurashvili, First Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Lasha Gotsiridze, and other government officials.

“I am touched by the warmth and hospitality of the people of Georgia”, said Mr. Le Houérou, "especially the welcome I received in Svaneti, and the reach beauty of the country. Georgia’s growth potential is quite apparent in sectors such as tourism, agriculture and power. The skills of its people need to be more fully harnessed to create jobs, strengthen the technical base, promote growth and reduce poverty”.

The World Bank launched the 2010 -2013 Georgia Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) in September, 2009. Prepared against the backdrop of twin crises – the August 2008 conflict followed by the global economic downturn – the Georgia CPS focuses on addressing post-conflict and vulnerability issues, and strengthening the foundations for competitiveness and growth in the future. World Bank commitments to Georgia total approximately US$1.4 billion for 49 projects.