Jim Kim: Healthy, educated people center to development

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim with Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Region Axel van Trotsenburg at a media conference during the former’s visit to the Philippines. Kim has announced a new partnership strategy with the country. Photo by: Anna Patricia Valerio / Devex

The World Bank reinforced on Tuesday its commitment to Philippine development with a new country partnership strategy focused on hard and soft infrastructure amounting to more than $4 billion in the next four years.

And this time, the goal is to ensure that no one — especially the poorest of the poor — gets left behind once the various projects are implemented, according to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

“It's not just hard infrastructure that leads to economic growth. It's healthier people who are better educated that drive economic growth so we encourage investments in all of those areas,” Kim said in a press conference at the end of his two-day official visit to the Philippines.

The partnership strategy will be divided into two areas. Around $3.2 billion will be earmarked for public sector development under the new financial commitment from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, on top of nonlending support through analytical and advisory assistance.

Around $1.2 billion, on the other hand, will be allotted for private sector development, including business and industry, through the International Financial Corp., the World Bank’s private sector arm.

5 key engagement areas

The bank’s Philippine portfolio includes 18 active project with a total net commitment of $2.9 billion in 2014 including 13 investment loan operations and five trust funds under the lending portfolio.

The strategy’s key engagement areas include:

1. Transparent and accountable governance — public financial management with a focus on transparency and accountability.

2. Empowerment of the poor and vulnerable — improvement of health and education outcomes.

3. Rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth — economic policy reform, private sector support and job creation.

4. Climate change, environment, and disaster risk management — financial and institutional resilience programs as well as resource management.

5. Peace, institution building, and social and economic opportunity — support for socio-economic development in Mindanao.

Focus on Mindanao

Following the country’s historic peace deal in the previously conflict-ridden southern Philippines, the World Bank pledged its support and commitment for Mindanao’s development, particularly in the Muslim-majority Bangsamoro.

Kim stressed the importance of having peace to sustain development progress and the need to grab this opportunity.

“Our support for peace and development is consistent with our twin goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity,” he told reporters in Manila. “When there's no peace, we know that there's no prosperity that's why we want to end the conflict by bringing in development projects as soon as we can.”

That’s why the World Bank is increasing its support to southern Philippines with a new $119 million funding facility to build infrastructure and boost capacity and development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. The money will help support the construction of farm-to-market roads, bridges, communal irrigation systems and portable water.

This new funding facility for Mindanao forms part of the $508 million Philippine Rural Development Project. Announced by Kim on Monday during his visit in areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Leyte province, the project will run for six years from 2015 to 2021 and will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture. It is expected to raise rural incomes and boost the productivity of farmers and fishermen in targeted areas across the Philippines, and will be presented to the World Bank’s board of executive directors next month.

Kim is also looking to add another $6.6 million to the Mindanao Trust Fund, which is expected to support livelihoods of more than 100,000 people in the region after discussions with Philippine President Benigno Aquino earlier on Tuesday.

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About the author

  • Lean 2

    Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Prior to joining Devex, he covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics. Lean is based in Manila.