Today, the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group (WBG) discussed the new framework for its engagement with Fiji over the next four years, aimed at boosting the Fijian economy and strengthening its fiscal, climate and social resilience following the impacts of two tropical cyclones, and the devastating fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Fiji, the first for Fiji, provides a strategic road-map of priority activities for World Bank Group member organizations: the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which focuses on the private sector in developing countries; and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which offers risk insurance and credit enhancement guarantees.
Central to the framework is a focus on supporting Fiji’s recovery from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, as well as severe Tropical Cyclones Harold and Yasa; all three events having hit Fiji in 2020, in addition to the ongoing impacts of climate change.
“Service-based economies like Fiji’s have been worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, compounding our already-extreme vulnerabilities to climate change. Our partnership with the World Bank holds the potential to enhance our resilience to an array of external shocks, including the impacts of lethal pathogens and a warming planet,” said the Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
“The pace of our recovery over the next 12 months will determine our ability to meet the stated aims of this four-year partnership. With the right support and access to adequate finance, the Fijian economy can indeed emerge stronger and more capable of seizing new opportunities. But we must seek more than a short-term recovery. Together with the World Bank, we hope to shape an international financial system that is more inclusive and more responsive to the development priorities of small states and the Global South.”
The World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework for Fiji has two major focus areas:
Focus Area 1: Fostering Private Sector-led Growth and Inclusive Economic Opportunities – focuses on creating investment and business opportunities; more jobs; improved access to finance; boosting the tourism and agriculture sectors; as well as better infrastructure, digital services and more clean energy.
Focus Area 2: Building Resilience – includes support to help Fiji gain access to funds both before and after a disaster strikes; improve emergency planning and increase resilient infrastructure; protect the environment and develop a sustainable Blue Economy; strengthen community resilience to climate and public health emergencies; and provide social assistance to help families and businesses that are in critical need.
The Framework is underpinned by an emphasis on strengthening governance and supporting gender equality. This work will include creating more jobs for women and helping to address gender-based violence in the country. The Framework is closely aligned with Fiji’s National Development Plan and was developed in close consultation with government, civil society and the private sector.
“The World Bank Group’s support to Fiji has increased significantly in the past five years and we are delighted to see our partnership deepen further. Over the next four years, the World Bank will be programming more than US$210 million (FJ$429 million) to support the implementation of this strategy; the most consequential level of support ever and most of it on highly-concessional terms under the Small Islands Economies Exception,” said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga & Tuvalu. “At its core, the Framework supports Fiji’s forward planning to boost its economic recovery from COVID-19 and further strengthens Fiji’s resilience to future climate and public health emergencies.”
As the largest global development organization focused on the private sector in emerging markets, IFC is concentrating its efforts on mobilizing funds from the private sector to help finance development projects including in the areas of healthcare, renewable energy and affordable housing.
“With the triple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and two cyclones, private sector solutions will be essential to help stimulate Fiji’s economy,” said Deva De Silva, IFC Resident Representative for Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu. “While COVID-19 is leaving a deep scar on the economy and has impacted the livelihoods of many people, particularly those reliant on tourism, we also see an opportunity to build back better. We are looking to create bridges between the public and private sectors to develop large scale initiatives, worth more than US$300 million and remain committed to supporting the government, including in the areas of tourism, financial systems reform, healthcare, affordable housing, renewable energy and improving gender equality.”
The World Bank, which will mark 50 years of work in Fiji in 2021, including having financed the first construction of the Queens Road from Suva to Nadi, while IFC celebrates 42 years in Fiji this year, having recently signed a landmark agreement with Energy Fiji Limited to deliver the largest solar project of its kind in the Pacific, bringing Fiji a step closer to its goal of sourcing 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources. The World Bank Group now has active projects in Fiji focused on transport, health, climate change, tourism and digital connection.