By ANA VURU
The World Bank has expressed a willingness to work with Fiji’s newly-elected Government and says it looks forward to a productive partnership.
World Bank Country Director, Franz-Drees Gross told Radio New Zealand that there’s a lot of eagerness from the Fijian Government to re-engage with the World Bank.
“We’ve doubled our programme (In the Pacific) in the past five years. But Fiji has been something of a doughnut hole for us in the regional programme. I think we look forward to a very productive partnership with Fiji, I think there’s a lot of eagerness from the government to re-engage with us, we’re certainly eager to provide them with good service and I think they’re a sophisticated country and I think we can do a lot of very good things,” he said.
Mr Gross also announced a $US50 million grant for Fiji for infrastructural development.
He said the move came as the World Bank doubled its level of commitment to the region.
“As you know there are 12 Pacific Island states that are members of the World Bank Group and if you go back 5 or 6 years we were essentially working mostly in Samoa, Tonga, PNG and Timor-Leste, but very little in the smaller island states. So now we work in all Pacific island countries that are member states,” Mr Gross said.
“We do a lot of work on telecoms — we’ve just connected Tonga to Fiji in fact with the fibre-optic marine cable, and we’re thinking of doing the same thing between Palau, FSM and Guam.
“We also do a lot of investment in airports and terrestrial transport, we’re now working on fisheries to try to get the Pacific Island countries, specifically the nine members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement a better share of the fisheries catch in the region, we’re also working on disaster preparedness, both to increase the resilience of infrastructure in the Pacific, but also to rebuild once disaster has struck, so I think we’re the single largest financier of Tonga’s reconstruction from the Ha’apai cyclone. So those are the broad areas, we work pretty much everywhere in the Pacific.”
Additional reporting: RNZI