World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Inger Andersen concluded her first official visit to West Bank and Gaza with a firm commitment that the global development institution will continue to support the delivery of economic and social services to the Palestinian people, a World Bank press release said.
Andersen visited a number of World Bank projects designed to improve the quality of life for all Palestinians and to equip young Palestinians with skills to secure a better future.
Seeing the Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment project, Andersen was impressed by the progress made for the benefit of Gaza's residents: “Despite the challenging circumstances, the work has moved beyond the important initial stage of dealing with immediate health and environment threats and is now tackling long-term solutions for wastewater management,' she said. 'It is critical that we maintain our focus on development efforts with sustainable outcomes – the partnership demonstrated in this program is a great example.'
Andersen also visited a number of projects in the tertiary education system. 'What I saw were demonstrable improvements to the learning process itself with students using multimedia tools and engaged in programs designed to be relevant to the job market. This is key to the critical employment challenge across the region. We are proud of these forward-looking projects.”
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Minister of Finance Nabil Kassis met Andersen and Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza. They discussed the latest economic developments and future cooperation.
“The World Bank is very concerned about the deepening fiscal crisis in West Bank and Gaza,' said Andersen. 'A crucial challenge facing Palestinians is how the private sector can be invigorated to provide the many jobs so urgently needed. But of course we recognize that until fundamental changes are made that enable freer movement of people and greater access to resources, efforts to improve investment will remain frustrated.”
During the two-day visit Andersen met a range of senior officials including the Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority Jihad al-Wazir, representatives of civil society and the private sector and members of the donor community.
“In an environment of protracted uncertainty, the conditions for a well-functioning economy remain extremely challenging,” said Sherman. “The Bank program has adopted a mix of complementary approaches supporting line ministries at the central level and local governments and NGOs at the local level where service provision is critical. Our strategy of engagement supports private sector led-growth and focuses on strengthening public institutions to efficiently manage public finances while ensuring services to citizens.'