Vientiane, July 14, 2011 – The Vice Minister of Finance of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, H.E. Dr. Viengthong Siphandone and the World Bank Country Director for Lao PDR, Ms Annette Dixon, signed today three grants totalling over US$50 million to further support the Government’s efforts in sustaining an effective poverty reduction strategy.
Specifically, the newly signed grants include:
- A US$10 million grant for the Seventh Poverty Reduction Support Operation (PRSO-7) aimed at sustaining economic growth through improvement of the investment climate and facilitating trade and management of natural resources;
- A US$25 million grant from International Development Association for the Second Poverty Reduction Project (PRF II), which will be channelled to reduce poverty in rural Lao PDR. Over 2,500 villages in 38 districts and 10 provinces of Lao PDR are expected to benefit during the implementation of the PRF II;
- A AUD$20.26 million for the Education for All - Fast Track Initiative Program (EFA-FTI), formally launched in June 2011 by the Lao PDR Minister of Education Dr. Phankham Viphavanh in Vientiane. This program is part of a larger initiative in which Australia is providing AUD$21 million through the World Bank in support of the program, which will be combined with USD$15.5 million from the World Bank and USD$30 million from the Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund.
“The ceremony today reaffirms the commitment and cooperation between the Government of Lao PDR and the World Bank in supporting the Government priorities as outlined in its National Socio-Economic Development Plan. The three grants will contribute to improving social outcomes by enhancing the quality of the public finance management framework and service delivery mechanism in the health and education sectors and targeted poverty reduction programs”, said Dr. Viengthong Siphandone. She also urged all concerned agencies to be actively involved and take ownership of the projects.
The three grants are part of a comprehensive package reflective of the key objectives of the World Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy for Lao PDR; to assist in sustaining growth through an improved macro economy and investment in human capital as well as to reduce poverty through targeting the poorest koumbans and districts. The funds will help ensure that the poor and vulnerable can benefit from quality education and have improved access to basic infrastructure and services.
“All three programs directly support the Lao Government’s breakthrough strategies, in particular human resource development and targeted poverty reduction programs,” said Ms. Annette Dixon, World Bank Country Director for Lao PDR. “Expanding access to, and more importantly, improving the quality of education, and community-driven development activities for the most disadvantaged and poor people are a critical investment for the future of Lao PDR.”