New operation will help improve socioeconomic recovery and resilience of Fiji’s most vulnerable
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2021 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$145 million (FJ$299 million) operation to support Fiji’s ongoing efforts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and multiple tropical cyclones.
Faced with a severe economic contraction that left one-third of the country’s workforce without full-time employment, the World Bank’s Fiji Recovery and Resilience First Development Policy Operation (DPO) with a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO) will boost Fiji’s recovery while building economic, social, and climate resilience.
The operation is closely aligned with Fiji’s National Development Plan and the recently-approved World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework for Fiji (2021 – 2024). The operation prioritizes improvements to Fiji’s debt and public financial management, and promotes opportunities for women, particularly in addressing gender barriers in male dominated sectors. In addition, the operation facilitates private sector-led economic recovery with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and supports the establishment of a Social Assistance Policy that will improve the efficiency and targeting of social assistance programs to many of Fiji’s poorest and most vulnerable groups.
In addition, the operation enhances Fiji’s climate resilience by supporting the implementation of its National Ocean Policy that will lead to a five-fold increase in marine protected areas and greater inclusion of women in ocean management. In addition, the operation supports improvement in the quality of structural steel reinforcement materials used in buildings to better withstand cyclonic winds.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted a terrible cost on the economies of Small Island Developing States at a time when we need every resource available directed at building resilience to devastating climate impacts,” said Fiji’s Acting Minister for Economy, Faiyaz Koya.
“Accessing IDA funding through the Small Island Economic Exception (SIEE) is the most prudent path we can take to ease the pandemic-produced hardship on Fijian families without forgoing progress to climate-proof our sustainable development. Stronger storms, longer droughts, and rising seas are here, now. We cannot wait on the unknown end of the pandemic to protect our people and accelerate a sustainable recovery for our economy.”
Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific said that the Bank’s latest East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, released today, emphasizes the scale of the challenge in front of Fiji—and demonstrates the clear need for Fiji’s partners, including the World Bank, to respond accordingly.
“The scale of this operation reflects both our, and the Fijian Government’s, belief that the response to the historically unprecedented shocks needs to be significant,” said Mr. Melgaard. "Our team at the World Bank – together with key partners - remain committed to working closely with the Government to help Fijians recover swiftly from this crisis and strengthen Fiji’s resilience to future shocks.”
In preparing for this operation, the World Bank has worked closely with key development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, the Governments of Australia, Japan and New Zealand, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to boost support for Fiji’s resilient recovery.
The operation provides US$110 million from the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window (CRW), and a further regular IDA credit of US$10 million under the Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO) that is available for immediate payout in the event of a significant climate-related or public health disaster, an earthquake, or a tsunami. IDA CRW and regular IDA credits are provided on highly concessional terms. The operation also provides a US$25 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 82 projects totaling US$1.78 billion in commitments in sectors including agriculture, aviation and transport, climate resilience and adaptation, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, macroeconomic management, rural development, telecommunications and tourism.
The World Bank Group’s Operational Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.