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PRESS RELEASE November 30, 2018

Kiribati Reforms Focus on Improving Early Childhood Care, Public Financial Management, and Laws Combatting Illegal Fishing

WASHINGTON, November 29, 2018 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$5 million for Kiribati’s Fifth Economic Reform Development Policy Operation, which will build on progress made to strengthen public finances and support inclusive economic growth.

The funds will support Kiribati’s management of cash reserves; its appointment of procurement specialists in a new Central Procurement Agency; and continued improvements to the governance of the Revenue Equalization Reserve Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

The environment for inclusive growth will be improved through stronger laws to deal with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; measures to ensure a more reliable, sustainable water supply to South Tarawa; and new standards for the regulation and support of early childhood care and education and preschool programs.

“The government of Kiribati is proud to be building on our reform program with support from the World Bank,” said Hon. Dr. Teuea Toatu Minister for Finance and Economic Development. “Through this operation we are especially looking forward to seeing less illegal fishing activities in our waters, higher standards of education and care for our youngest i-Kiribati to better prepare them for school and lifelong learning, and fewer water-borne illnesses in South Tarawa, which places a disproportionate burden of care on women and girls.”

The Fifth Economic Support Development Policy Operation directly supports the government’s Economic Reform Plan, which has already delivered greater transparency around public debt, improved management of Kiribati’s sovereign wealth fund, competition in the domestic mobile telecommunications market, and reform of the Public Utilities Board to improve delivery of essential services. 

The operation is in line with support from other development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“The World Bank stands as a committed partner in development with the government of Kiribati, as it works to ensure stronger public finances and create an environment for economic growth which benefits all i-Kiribati,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.

The Fifth Economic Support Development Policy Operation is funded through a US$5 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries. This support builds on gains achieved by previous development policy operations in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.


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