IMF, World Bank & IFI Round-Up

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said May 28 an international aid meeting for Africa?in Yokohama ?will help turn global attention to development and other critical issues in the region. ?Because Japan will host the G8 summit in July, this TICAD meeting will help African interest to receive greater attention, including other critical issues of food, agriculture and climate change,? Zoellick said, as cited by Jiji Press. He made the remarks in the first plenary session of the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD IV?Given that Japanese overseas assistance has traditionally focused on Asia, Zoellick said ?Japan’s outlook is changing,? noting that Japan’s ODA contribution to Africa is increasing. ?The Japanese public and officials are recognizing the growing importance of Africa,? he said.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) will offer Latin American and Caribbean countries USD 500 million in loans to help them cope with soaring food prices, bank officials said May 27. The loans, expected to be approved shortly by the regional lender’s executive board, aim to bolster farm productivity and help countries care for their most vulnerable citizens as the price surge deepens poverty and heightens political instability in some of the region’s fragile countries, Reuters reports. ?The risk for the region is very real. If nothing is done, the hard-won gains in the fight against poverty could be undermined,? said Luis Alberto Moreno, the IADB’s president.

The World Bank’s IBRD on May 28 became the first foreign issuer to launch a public bond in Uruguayan Pesos. The World Bank will pass the proceeds on to the Uruguayan Government. This is the first time the World Bank is providing local currency financing to a member country by directly funding in that country?s own currency. This bond represents an important milestone for the World Bank and its clients. Although the World Bank has issued bonds in other Latin American currencies such as Mexican Peso, Chilean Peso, Brazilian Reais, and Colombian Pesos, this Uruguayan Peso transaction is the first bond ever to be issued for the purpose of a back-to-back disbursement of a specific loan.

Three new World Bank-financed projects, approved yesterday, will support China?s effort to improve the country?s efficient use of energy and reduce polluting emissions from power plants. Loans, totaling USD 441 million and accounting for almost one third of World Bank lending planned for China in fiscal year 2008, will support the Energy Efficiency Financing Project, co-financed by a Global Environment Facility grant of USD 13.5 million; the Shandong Flue Gas Desulfurization Project; and the Liaoning Third Medium Cities Infrastructure Project. ?Improving energy efficiency is critical to China?s ability to sustain economic growth and protect its environment,? said David Dollar, World Bank Country Director for China. ?It is also a priority area for the World Bank?s work in China.?

The World Bank May 27 approved a USD 4.55 million Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant (USD 1.99 million for Albania, and USD 2.56 million for Montenegro) for the joint Albania-Montenegro Lake Skadar-Shkodra Integrated Ecosystem Management Project. The funds will help both countries manage Lake Skadar-Shkoder more efficiently and in a more environmentally-safe manner by promoting sustainable development. This will include a special focus on tourism and fisheries that will also help encourage action on some priority pollution sites. ?This project will yield important economic and environmental benefits on a local and national scale by encouraging the development of sustainable tourism, promoting greater market access for fishermen and helping to increase enforcement against unsustainable fishing practices,? said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA) credit of USD 100 million for the first phase of the Government of Tanzania?s Science and Technology Higher Education Program (STHEP).The Program?s objective is to boost Tanzania?s competitiveness through improvements in teaching science and technology at the higher education level, and aims at enhancing the quantity and quality of higher education graduates through improved learning environments. This STHEP will enable the various public educational institutions of higher learning to make the much needed critical investments in training, capacity building, infrastructure and equipment, modern information and communications technology (ICT) and library systems, which will contribute to the achievement of the goals of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (known by its Swahili acronym, MKUKUTA).

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