TUNIS, March 19, 2015— The World Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Sri Mulyani Indrawati today concluded an official visit to Tunisia. Dr Indrawati reaffirmed Bank support for the country’s development and stability, especially following the tragic attack on the Bardo museum that coincided with her visit. The Bank’s high-level delegation included Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank Regional Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, who was on his first official mission to Tunisia in his new post.
During their visit, Dr. Indrawati and her delegation met with Tunisia’s President Béji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Habib Essid, along with members of his cabinet. Dr. Indrawati praised the commitment to dialogue and consensus that sustained Tunisia’s political progress and pledged both Bank resources and global knowledge in support of the post-transition period.
“During my meeting with the Tunisian President we discussed the importance of consolidating political achievements with economic reforms,” Dr. Indrawati said. “The World Bank will be a committed partner in meeting this goal, as we are more resolved than ever to support Tunisia in laying the foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth.”
Her visit marks the starting point for developing a new five-year strategy for World Bank Group cooperation with Tunisia during the 2016 to 2020 period. The process will involve extensive consultations with the country’s government, civil society, labor unions, and private sector. The Bank’s work will focus on improving Tunisia’s business climate, expanding access to credit, increasing transparency and accountability in government, raising the quality and relevance of education, and making labor markets more efficient. The Bank has committed around US$4 billion to finance the implementation of the strategy.
“The consensus that drove the political transition now provides an opportunity to address key economic reforms,” said Dr Ghanem “The parliament can play a critical role in harnessing that consensus for the implementation of reforms that can transform the economy.”
For a full understanding of the country’s current economic, social, and political priorities, Dr. Indrawati and her delegation met with a diverse range of civil society representatives. Dr. Indrawati also participated in a university debate at the Higher Institute for the Study of Commerce, where she heard the views of the country’s young people and discussed her own experiences with transition as finance minister of Indonesia. The delegation also visited an urban water supply project financed by the Bank, and aimed at supporting the national water utility, SONEDE meet rising demand.
The World Bank Group’s US$1.2 billion portfolio in Tunisia comprises 22 investment and technical assistance projects, including 10 loans and 12 grants (worth about US$51 million) focused on water and sanitation, wastewater, decentralization, financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises, and higher education and rural development in some of Tunisia’s more underdeveloped regions.