Bank approves US$500 Million for governance reforms and economic opportunities

June 21, 2011

Support will boost transparency and help Tunisia’s new authorities respond to citizens’ aspirations

Tunis, June 21, 2011 — The World Bank today approved a $500 million loan to Tunisia’s interim government to support its efforts to strengthen governance, transparency and accountability, with the aim of jump starting economic growth and increasing economic and social opportunities for Tunisians.

The Governance and Opportunity Development Policy Loan will support the interim government’s reform program in four key areas: governance, employment, social policies and the financial sector. Reforms include a new access to information law, the liberalization of the internet, transparency in public procurement and work towards greater freedom of association.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to respond to Tunisia’s request at this critical time and to support the country’s path to democracy and strengthened governance,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “The country is facing historic challenges and the Bank and its shareholders recognize that support for governance reform will be as important as money during this period.”

The transition government developed the reforms supported by the loan, to signal a break from the past and to place Tunisia on a new path towards transparency, equity, and opportunity for all Tunisians.

"The program of reforms undertaken by the transition government responds to the key aspirations of the Tunisian people and demonstrates that Tunisia has turned a page in its history. We have many needs in post-revolution Tunisia but as a transition government, we have worked with the World Bank and its partners to find a way to begin to address the most pressing and immediate challenges,” said the Tunisian Prime Minister Mr Béji Caïd Essebsi, “The Tunisian people have said they want to see improvements in transparency and governance as well as immediate action to relieve the plight of the unemployed, the poorest and most vulnerable. This loan will help us respond to these demands and help prevent a recurrence of some of the most visible ills of the old regime.”

The Development Policy Loan (DPL) is a core component of the World Bank's overall strategy to assist the interim government. This strategy aims at supporting the transition process, and laying the foundation for a more dynamic, inclusive and open society and economy.  It is part of a package prepared jointly by the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD).

The loan will also support financial sector reforms to improve corporate governance in banking; immediate support to government employment schemes; and improvements in the outreach and participatory monitoring of social services.

“The Bank and other development partners have worked very closely with the authorities to support them in defining a groundbreaking reform program that reflects the aspirations of Tunisians,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Country Director for Tunisia. “They have demonstrated a strong commitment to pushing forward with actions that are innovative for the country and which will create a more open economy capable of generating opportunities for the unemployed.”

It is also critical, said Gray, to deliver basic social services to parts of the country that had long been underserved and the Government committing to make a demonstrable impact on this challenging issue.

The focus of the DPL is in line with the four key building blocks for development in the MNA region, identified by the World Bank ahead of last month’s G 8 meeting in Deauville, France. These include: Increasing Transparency, Social Accountability and Citizen Participation, to create a more accountable and responsive state that serves its citizens; Creating Jobs for the unemployed and underemployed, by taking short-term actions that support job creation in the medium and long-term; Increasing Social and Economic Inclusion, in particular of youth and women, and of poor people in economically-disadvantaged regions; and Accelerating Economic Growth through policies that support a more dynamic, open, and competitive private sector which in turn would encourage individual initiative and entrepreneurship, leading to more and better jobs.

Media Contacts
In Washington
Esther Lee Rosen
In Tunis
Donia Jemail
Tel : (216) 71 103 537
Anwar Soulami
Tel : (212) 5 37 63 60 50