New opportunities for Pacific collaboration discussed
Nuku’alofa, Tonga, February 25, 2015 – Prime Minister Hon. ‘Akilisi Pohiva and World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Axel van Trotsenburg will meet Wednesday to discuss existing development activities and new partnership opportunities, then attend a full Cabinet reception in Parliament.
Mr. van Trotsenburg and a team of World Bank officials will also meet with senior Cabinet ministers and visit reconstruction projects in Ha’apai.
On Thursday, Mr. van Trotsenburg will attend a breakfast with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as senior government and NGO representatives and journalists. Mr. van Trotsenburg will also visit the landing site of the 826-kilometer fibre optic cable connecting Tonga to Fiji.
“This trip reinforces our steadfast dedication to long-term and robust development in the Pacific, including in Tonga,” van Trotsenburg said. “Today’s meeting is part of an ongoing conversation and partnership between the government of Tonga and the World Bank, and I look forward to seeing how we can deepen our support for the people of Tonga and the country’s ambitious development goals.”
The World Bank currently has a portfolio of six active projects for a total commitment of $91.6 million (including co-financing and trust fund contributions) in Tonga. The projects support development in information communication technology, public financial management, resilience to climate change and natural disasters, maritime and roads infrastructure, aviation and education.
“Tonga welcomes Mr. van Trotsenburg and the World Bank delegation,” Pohiva said. “I look forward to showing Mr van Trotsenburg all that Tonga has to offer and discussing opportunities for the World Bank’s current and future engagement in Tonga to reach its optimum development potential.”
The visit also will provide an opportunity for Mr. van Trotsenburg to consult on a planned report titled Pacific Possible that will analyze key development opportunities with significant potential for long-term and robust impact. The project covers six focus areas: tourism, ocean resources, the knowledge economy, labor mobility, working together, and threats.
Pacific Possible will examine the potential increases in income and living standards that could be achieved through regional policies supported by Pacific Island countries, along with partners around the broader Pacific Rim including: Australia, Japan, Korea and others.
“Pacific Possible aims to provide sustainable recommendations that can deliver transformational differences to smaller Pacific Island countries such as Tonga,” van Trotsenburg explained. “The World Bank has a strong history throughout East Asia of providing valuable inputs for the big development challenges in countries including China and Vietnam. The World Bank has experience at using data and analysis to develop beneficial policy opportunities for countries – Pacific Possible aims to do the same for Pacific Island nations.”