Announcement of new strategy accompanied by US$30 million to improve business environment
Washington, December 5, 2017 – The World Bank Group announced today a new four-year assistance strategy focused on job creation and improving livelihoods for the Palestinian people. While support for more effective and accountable service delivery will continue, the new strategy will put greater emphasis on building an enabling environment for private sector development and realizing investments, as an engine of growth and job creation.
“The full potential of the economy will not be achieved without a political settlement,” said Marina Wes, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza. “However, more can be done now to support the well-being of the Palestinian people who have faced more than a decade of stagnant growth and increasing unemployment that has left almost half the youth population without jobs. We, the World Bank Group, believe that the current situation demands a fresh look at our partnership strategy.”
The new strategy also aims to address obstacles to private investment in the business environment, in infrastructure and in the availability of relevant skills, with a particular focus on promoting smaller businesses and supporting women and youth. Regional integration will also be a priority, including building commercial links between Gaza, the West Bank, and other regional economies.
“We have been supporting the Palestinian private sector over the past years, helping increasing access to finance to micro, small and medium enterprises, promoting women entrepreneurship and supporting the infrastructure. Over the next years, we will continue to demonstrate that private sector is key to creating much needed jobs in West Bank and Gaza. Crowding in private sector to these challenging markets is a key pillar of our strategy,” said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa region
Going forward, the World Bank Group will work with Palestinian policy makers, the private sector and a diverse range of stakeholders on actions to attract and leverage more private sector investments. In support of this goal, the World Bank Group will help establish and fund the ‘Private Sector Enhancement Facility’ which will be a focal point for the reforms needed to build private investor’s confidence. It will help create the right environment for the private sector to flourish, reducing the political risks, and increasing the financial viability of projects.
In line with the new strategy, the World Bank also announced a new US$30 million grant in budget support to support reforms critical to improve the business environment and attract private investment. The Fiscal Stability and Business Environment Reform Development Policy Grant (DPG) will support many reforms, including a new Companies Law with simplified business registration procedures and the establishment of a Movable Assets Registry. The DPG also supports actions that improve the financial viability of the energy, water and health sectors. This will improve public finances and lay the foundation for enhanced private sector activity.