TUNIS, January 24, 2013 – World
Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today concluded a two-day visit to
Tunisia during which the Group’s private sector arm, the International
Finance Corporation, announced a $48 million investment to support the
growth of private entrepreneurs. Kim met the country’s leadership and
civil society to discuss the reform agenda and Tunisia’s progress two
years after its popular uprising.
"We are here as strong supporters
of the Tunisian revolution," said Kim. "[The people
of Tunisia] went through some very difficult times, but in doing what you've
done, you've inspired the entire world. [Now] we've got to make sure that
Tunisia is successful in showing that Islam and democracy go together,
that you can have economic development that includes everyone."
Kim emphasized ongoing World Bank Group
support for Tunisia’s aspirations through programs that address improved
governance and accountability, opportunities for women and youth, private
sector job-creation and investments in interior regions.
During his visit, Kim met with the Tunisian
authorities, including: Moncef Marzouki, President of the Republic;
Hamadi Jebali, Prime Minister; and several Cabinet members including
Riadh Bettaieb, Minister of Investments and International Cooperation;
Elyes Fakhfakh, Minister of Finance; Ridha Saidi, Minister
of Economic Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office; Sihem Badi,
Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs; and Khalil Zaouia, Minister
of Social Affairs. Kim also met Chedly Ayari, the Central
Bank Governor and Mustapha Ben Jaafar, President of the Constituent
The World Bank recently approved a $500
million budget support program for Tunisia,
designed to underpin the government’s efforts to improve the business
environment, strengthen financial sector stability, reform key social services
and advance transparency through improved access to public information
and more transparent budgeting. This support was part of a multi-donor
effort to which the African Development Bank and the European Union provided
an additional $700 million to bolster the reforms.
During Kim’s visit, the International
Finance Corporation (IFC) signed an agreement with Amen Bank to support
smaller businesses and drive job creation in Tunisia. IFC and two funds
managed by the IFC Asset Management Company will invest up to $48 million
in Amen Bank capital. IFC will also provide Amen with advice in risk management
and corporate governance. The partnership is expected to help Amen Bank
expand its lending to smaller businesses, which often have trouble accessing
the financing they need to grow. With this investment, IFC's commitments
in Tunisia will amount to $105 million since January 2011.
Kim also held meetings with Tunisian
civil society and business representatives. He discussed the need for consensus
around key reforms and stressed the importance of the continued involvement
of all sectors of Tunisian society in the country’s transition.
"It was a very inspiring experience
for me to meet with representatives of civil society who were at the center
of starting the revolution that has had a truly global reach,” said
Kim after the meeting. “The opportunity to sit with them and
hear their perspectives on what needs to happen next was very enlightening.
And what was really clear to me is that ... no matter what happens, civil
society voices have changed forever and they are never going away."
Kim reiterated the importance of quickly
reaching consensus on a new constitution. Among other important issues
this would address, it would help build the stable, predictable environment
necessary to boost private sector investment and create jobs. He also underlined
the World Bank’s support for transparency and accountability through the
institution’s open government and open data initiatives.
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