The World Bank board of executive directors has approved to release its new Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) to support Malawi’s effort to diversify the economy with US$ 695 million (about K245 billion) package.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times on Wednesday, the World Bank said the assiatnce will cover the period of 2013 to 2017 financial years.
“Through this new Country Assistance Strategy, the World Bank Group is committed to continue to help Malawi accelerate progress towards poverty reduction and successful economic transformation,”said Sandra Bloemenkamp, Country Manager for Malawi and team leader for the CAS.
Bloemenkamp said thehe total Bank commitment to Malawi currently stands at close to US$1 billion and that World Bank “will work closely with the Government and other stakeholders in ensuring strong development results are achieved through this new partnership.”The CAS is aligned with the Second Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II, 2011-2016) adopted in April 2012.
It takes account of the new government’s priorities of economic diversification, reducing vulnerability and improving infrastructure, to achieve sustained growth as outlined in its Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).
World Bank said the new CAS has three thematic areas to support the government of Malawi achieve the goals of its development strategy.
“The first theme promotes sustainable, diversified, and inclusive growth as a way of accelerating progress in reducing poverty. This will be done by helping the country achieve and maintain macroeconomic stability, invest in key infrastructure, improve the business environment, to promote competitiveness and support regional integration,” said the statement.
World Bank said it help the country achieve and maintain macroeconomic stability, invest in key infrastructure, improve the business environment, to promote competitiveness and support regional integration.
The new CAS will continue to support some already existing projects such as the Malawi Social Action Fund, Agriculture and Irrigation programs, investments in key infrastructure sectors such as Energy, Mining, and Water, Natural Resources Management, Education, HIV/Aids and Nutrition, and in Higher Education and Skills., said the statement.
Special attention will also be given to improve the public finance management systems, and improved public sector management and statistics.
However, the bank said it acknowledges the considerable risks to successful attainment of the results targeted in the proposed program.
These stem from the political environment for sustained commitment to the reform agenda, external and internal macroeconomic risks, weather-related shocks, risks from the lack of diversity of the economy, and risks arising from inadequate public sector management capacity and fiduciary and governance issues, the statement said.
Accoridng to Bloemenkamp. effectively managing these risks “will be important for Malawi to ensure optimum results from the World Bank Group support during the implementation of this new CAS.”
Malawi’s Finance Minister, Ken Lipenga said , according to the statement that:”Economic transformation and diversification will be key in reducing the country’s vulnerability to shocks. In order to make our growth more inclusive we need to expand our sources of growth as well as increase our productivity and the participation of our people in this process.”
Lipenga added: “This CAS is therefore very responsive and supportive of our country’s needs and programs to improve the lives of Malawians.”
According to the statement, the new CAS brings the World Bank’s support and commitment to Malawi to about $3
billion since Malawi became a member of the bank after independence.