Friends of Yemen Meeting
March 7, 2013
Statement by Inger Andersen
Vice President, Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank
Rt. Honorable William Hague, Foreign Secretary, the United Kingdom,
His Excellency Dr. Nizar Mandani, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
His Excellency, Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Republic of Yemen,
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by congratulating the Government of Yemen for His Excellency President Hadi’s recent announcement, setting March 18th as the start date for the National Dialogue. We wish the government every success in carrying out this historical opportunity in a transparent and inclusive way, including with active participation of youth and women, and hope that the process will set the path towards achieving justice, equality and prosperity desired by the Yemeni people.
Our recent meetings in Riyadh and New York confirmed the solid commitment of the international community to support Yemen, with over $7.5 billion in new pledges. We have also agreed on a compact under the Mutual Accountability Framework, where the development partners committed to deliver the promised resources and technical assistance on a timely basis, and the Government committed to move forward on its economic and social reform agenda.
While there is gradual progress on both ends, much remains to be done.
From the donors’ side, we are pleased to see that our Saudi friends have deposited $1billion to the Central Bank of Yemen, in addition to a $500 million export subsidy, relieving the pressure on the foreign reserves and stabilizing the currency. We also note that an agreement has been reached between KSA and GoY on a list of 14 investment projects totaling $1.3 billion that will deliver much needed assistance and services to the Yemeni population.
But the progress on the disbursements from other donors on the promised project level funds remain slow, with only about $1.7 billion worth of projects approved or effective, of which about $500 million actually disbursed to date.
As you would all agree, this is not sufficient for Yemen to respond to the urgent needs of its citizens and begin reviving its economy for sustainable growth. Yemen needs exceptional and substantial financial and technical support now, which could be delivered in the form of budget support, quick disbursing projects, long term investments, or capacity building assistance.
On the Government’s side, the recent Presidential Decree establishing an Executive Bureau to fast track donor funded projects and support the implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework is a welcome step in the right direction. The Bureau is expected to accelerate the absorption of donor pledges through improved capacity and enhanced monitoring mechanisms.
In this regard, the World Bank is pleased to announce the establishment of a Multi Donor Trust Fund, at the request of the Government of Yemen, and with generous funding from the governments of the United Kingdom and Denmark, to provide technical assistance to this Executive Bureau to support Government’s Stabilization Program and the implementation of the MAF.
Together with the GoY, we will convene the first Follow-up Meeting in April in Sana’a, to take stock of progress made in the delivery of the pledge and reform commitments, by the donors and the government, respectively, and agree on action plan for the coming six months.
Finally, let me mention that World Bank Group recently developed a new interim strategy to support Yemen during this transition period, and already approved three new projects, totaling $206 million in commitments, to provide the most needed critical basic and social services to the poorest segments of the Yemeni population.
The $100 million Emergency Crisis Recovery Project will provide cash transfers to 400,000 eligible poor households over the next 12 to 15 months.
The $66 million Second Basic Education Development Project will promote equal access to quality education, through building 500 additional classrooms; rehabilitating 150 schools; recruiting and training of 700 rural female teachers.
The $40 million Road Asset Management Project will improve roads and create jobs. The enhanced road network will connect agricultural, fish, oil/gas production sites to consumption and manufacturing centers and export outlets.
This support accounts for more than half of the $400 million World Bank Group pledged at the Riyadh Donors Meeting, and complements our ongoing programs with over $700 million in approved commitments [of which about $480 million are yet to be disbursed].
We are also helping Yemen access additional funding under the Deauville Partnership Transition Fund – an Enterprise Revitalization & Employment project for $4.4 million and a CSO Partnership project for $1.72 million have already been approved, and others focusing on ICT and governance are under preparation.
We will continue to deliver on our pledges with speed and efficiency, partnering with the Saudi Fund in the next phase of our support, to finance the Aden-Taiz highway, which has been identified as a strategic priority by the government, given its political, social and economic importance during the transition.
We urge all of Yemen’s friends and partners to finalize their pledge allocations and initiate high impact projects with visible and quick results.
As several of you have mentioned, a successful transition in Yemen will serve not only its people, but regional stability and global security...and the time to act is now.