The World Bank has approved a $78 million loan to the Government of Tunisia aimed at improving the quality of life for urban residents by supporting local governments in delivering basic municipal services and infrastructure.
The Municipal Development Project (MDP) III is the third in a series of World Bank projects which paves the way for institutional and policy reforms to decentralize expenditure and service responsibilities from Tunisia’s central government to local authorities.
With 64 percent of the population living in cities and towns, Tunisia is among the most urbanized countries in the Middle East and North Africa. By the year 2020, the urban population is expected to soar to 70 percent. With unemployment growing along the fringes of urban centers, municipalities are expected to face increased pressure in providing and maintaining basic services.
At the request of the Tunisian government, which recently adopted its 10th Development Plan for the period 2002-2006, the Bank will continue to support municipal financial and managerial capacity — one of the key priorities of the national strategy.
The MDP adopts a two-pronged strategy to enable Tunisia’s municipalities to better manage their resources and assume a greater role in financing investments at the local level. One component focuses on strengthening the Municipal Development Fund’s (CPSCL) ability to respond to the increasing needs of municipalities through technical assistance, training and studies supporting its transformation into an autonomous institution.
The second component of the project strategy seeks to strengthen the ability of local governments and related agencies to better deliver and manage public services through training, computerization of tax management and reforming working procedures.
The loan falls in line with the World Bank’s country assistance strategy (CAS) for Tunisia which places emphasis on fighting poverty through various means, including municipal and urban development. Since Tunisia’s growth will be centered in urban areas and along the coast in the long run, the CAS anticipates a greater need for urban development in low-income areas in the future. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )