WASHINGTON, July 3, 2012 – Jobs and economic recovery, along with support for reforms to give citizens more voice and make government more transparent and accountable, will be the overall focus of World Bank activity in Tunisia for the next two years. The new approach announced today is designed to assist Tunisia as it manages a crucial stage in its political transition.
“With a constitution to write and a new social compact to reach, Tunisia is at a critical historical juncture,” said Simon Gray, World Bank Country Director for the Maghreb. “Our goal is to help Tunisia create the right environment for this process, by addressing an immediate need to get the economy going again so that it can create jobs for Tunisian citizens, no matter what part of the country they live in.”
The Interim Strategy Note (ISN), which was discussed by the World Bank Board of Directors today, was prepared jointly with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and with the participation of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. It was informed by extensive consultation with interim authorities, civil society organizations, youth and women’s groups, and the private sector.
The ISN will guide World Bank Group engagement during the period in which the constituent assembly draws up a constitution and organizes elections. A full Country Partnership Strategy will be developed after the elections, to ensure that the programs it underpins are fully aligned with the priorities of the new government. As a temporary instrument, the ISN provides the flexibility that will allow the Bank to adjust its strategy to meet new requests and changing circumstances in a rapidly evolving environment.
“We welcome the excellent partnership that we forged with government, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders in the design of this innovative strategy to help Tunisia lay the necessary foundations for job creation and private sector led growth,” said Eileen Murray, the World Bank’s Resident Representative for Tunisia. “Tunisia is poised to meet the challenges that it faces and the World Bank will do its best to support the country as it charts a new path.”
The ISN will focus on three main areas of support. The first aimed at laying the foundation for renewed sustainable growth and job creation. Related programs will be geared toward restoring investor confidence in the short term and boosting private sector activity over the longer term. The second is the promotion of social and economic inclusion by improving access to basic services for underserved communities and improving the efficiency of social safety net programs. The third will focus on strengthening governance through improved access to public information as the basis for increased social accountability and transparency.
A priority that will cut across all three areas, and which will be integrated into all Bank programs, is to maintain and advance the role of Tunisian women throughout the political transition. Continued outreach remains a priority too. The extensive consultation done in the preparation of the ISN and the diverse range of relationships established will be built upon in the months ahead in engagement with new stakeholders.
“IFC has increased its engagement, played a catalytic role in supporting Tunisia’s private sector since January 2011 and has established a presence for the first time in Tunis. We expect to maintain this positive trend during the ISN period,” said Mouayed Makhlouf the IFC Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa.
The newly announced ISN replaces the 2010-2013 Country Partnership Strategy, which needed to be reframed to meet the needs of post-revolutionary Tunisia.