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World Bank increases allocations to Palestine to $90 million

Oct. 28, 2018 10:01 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 28, 2018 11:14 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza, Marina Wes, announced on Saturday that the World Bank has increased this year’s allocation to Palestine to $90 million, up from the previous $55 million.

Wes said a new assistance strategy for Palestine has been presented to the World Bank’s board of executive directors that focus on job creation and private sector development.

“In December 2017, we at the World Bank presented a new assistance strategy for the West Bank and Gaza at two of our board’s executive directors, and this new assistance strategy has a very strong focus on job creation and private sector development.”

She stressed “The unemployment rate in both the West Bank and Gaza are extremely high especially among young people, and that’s why in this new assistance strategy, we have prioritized at the job creation agenda.”

The latest figures released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) showed the unemployment rate in Palestine during first quarter 2018 at over 30%, with around 50% unemployment in the Gaza Strip compared to around 20% in the West Bank.

Unemployment was highest among young individuals aged 20 to 24 years.

Wes added “Now to try to make a difference in this difficult time in the West Bank and Gaza, we also managed to get an increased allocation of $90 million for our current year,” adding “to kick start the implementation of this new strategy and the focus on job creation and private sector development.”

The growth in Palestine needs to become more private sector-driven, in order for it to be sustainable, “If we want to have sustainable jobs, it needs to be driven out of private sector,” Wes said.

She said the World Bank group is working as one, with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), an international financial institution that provides risk guarantees including political risk guarantees.

The World Bank official praised what she described as the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “very commendable job” in dealing with its public finances.

“Now what we’re seeing is an increasing reduction in public finances which obviously provide high risks to the sustainability of the PA budget and it is something we have to monitor closely as we go forward.”

She said that she hopes “new ways will be found for going forward, especially if growth in the economy can be maintained.”

Wes emphasized that Gaza’s economy has declined sharply in the first half of 2018, “Over the last decade or so, the blockade has undermined the capacity of the productive economy so the manufacturing base that used to be there is no longer there.”

She continued by mentioning how impressed she was by several young individuals that she met with in Gaza and the startups they are managing despite the “challenging situations on the ground.”

Wes said that financial aid is required in Gaza, in order to create short term jobs and to make sure that basic services such as education and health are maintained and improved.

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