The World Bank’s Executive Directors have endorsed a new business plan and a $305 million lending package aimed at fighting poverty and unemployment in Jordan.
The Bank’s lending will concentrate on education reform for a knowledge economy and public sector reform, which together will account for more than 75 percent of the loan package.
Technical assistance and advisory services will focus on policy and skills-building in the areas of water, education and pension reform. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank Group, will play an active role in Jordan under the new CAS, with plans to support export-oriented sectors and invest in the financial sectors, infrastructure development and information technology.
Designed in close consultation with the Government of Jordan, members of civil society organizations and international donors, the new country assistance strategy (CAS) for Jordan contains a balanced mix of lending and advisory services that will focus on education and public sector reform in particular, as well as other national development priorities for the fiscal years 2003-2005.
With a population of 4.9 million, Jordan’s relatively small and open economy is vulnerable to the geopolitics of the region and constrained by a growing population and limited natural resources.
While its economy has shown resilience in the face of escalating regional tensions with a 4.7 percent growth over the last two years, this growth has not translated into a proportionate increase in jobs or poverty reduction. Official estimates place poverty at 12 percent. Unemployment and underemployment remain high, and deep pockets of poverty persist.
On the human development front, Jordan’s achievements over the past 30 years have been impressive with significant progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Life expectancy at birth increased from 58 to 70 years and adult literacy from 47 to 90 percent. Infant mortality fell by nearly 50 percent and fertility rates are on the decline. Given the demographic pressure, however, the gains in human development cannot be sustained without upgrading the quality and efficiency of education and health services.
To address the multiple challenges of achieving higher growth to eliminate poverty, improving public services and addressing resource constraints such as water, the Government of Jordan announced a poverty strategy last year and launched a program for Social and Economic Transformation.
The new CAS complements the government’s efforts to fight poverty by adopting the promoting human development, improving governance through public sector reform, enhancing conditions for growth led by the private sector, addressing resource conservation, exploitation and management with a focus on water and gender inclusion in development planning and analysis. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )