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World Bank okays $30 million grant to support Palestinian reforms

Feb. 8, 2019 3:17 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 11, 2019 2:26 P.M.)
WASHINGTON (Ma'an) -- The World Bank approved a $30 million development policy grant, on Thursday, to support the Palestinian Authority’s reform program in strengthening fiscal resilience and creating an environment conducive for private investment and job creation.

The grant program Strengthening Fiscal Resilience and Business Environment Development Policy Grant will continue to support to the Palestinian Authority’s implementation of the Palestinian National Policy Agenda 2017-2022 with emphasis on improving government transparency of fiscal transfers to local service providers in key sectors, while reducing the fiscal drain on the Palestinian Authority’s budget.

Increasing the fiscal stability of the electricity, water, and health sectors will in turn build confidence of potential investors and lay the foundation for improved private sector activities.

“Within the current stalemate of declining economic growth and squeeze on liquidity, the Development Policy Grant remains a key instrument in supporting both reform priorities and coping with the fiscal problems. Enhancing sustainability and creditworthiness of service providers will not only stimulate economic activities and create jobs but will result in greater citizens’ trust,” said Anna Bjerde, World Bank Acting Country Director for West Bank and Gaza and Director of Strategy and Operations for the Middle East and North Africa Region.

This is the ninth in a series of development policy grants, totaling $340 million, of budget support grants for public sector governance and transparency reforms.

“While the new grant will continue to support progress to improve the Palestinian Authority’ s service delivery in energy, water and health, it is also essential to modernize and improve the legal and regulatory business environment to attract investors and entrepreneurs and to build on a new reform momentum in land administration and cashless mobile payments,” said Damir Cosic, World Bank Senior Economist.

The focus on land administration will not only contribute to larger tax collections but will increase the availability of collateral for bank lending (only titled land can be used for collateral).

In addition, the provision of mobile payments not only benefits financial inclusion of underbanked groups, but it is a cornerstone of provision of public services electronically (e-government) which holds great potential for the public sector to provide citizens with high quality services in a cost-effective manner.

Recently, France and Norway contributed a total amount of about $26 million to implement policies supported by the World Bank’s Development Policy Grant.
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