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World Bank hails UN in DRC and calls for more international support for the country

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MONUC - March 10, 2007 12:26 PM

Paul Wolfowitz and Louis Michel

At a press conference in Kinshasa on Friday March 9,2007, President of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz stressed the need for the institution to ‘move fast’ in support of the DRC’s reconstruction. He expressed his optimism for the country’s future, and said that the World Bank was fully committed to supporting the fledgling DRC government in the fight against bribery and corruption, which he said was the ‘main obstacle’ to economic growth.

Mr Wolwofitz was accompanied at the conference by Louis Michel, European Union (EU) Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid, which is the DRC’s other major development donor.

Mr. Wolwowitz said that the fact that the EU and the World Bank were here together was both ‘practical and symbolic’.

“It’s symbolic because we are the two biggest donors to the country, but also it’s practical, as this morning we met with 15 development partners. This is significant, because we can only ask the people and the leaders of Congo to do more, if we the donors ask the same of ourselves.”

In addition, he thanked the UN peacekeepers, the development partners and the people of Congo for bringing the country to ‘a more hopeful and peaceful point.’

“Everyone wants to build a better life for themselves and a better future for this country, and everyone has great hopes that the peace can be consolidated and the democratic process extended. This president has an electoral mandate and he’s a man of great potential and his leadership is essential.”

The World Bank President also highlighted the need for his institution to move fast.

We can only ask the people and the leaders of Congo to do more, if we the donors ask the same of ourselves

“We need to move much faster than we normally do in long term development programmes, which normally have a six year time horizon. The people of this country have suffered too much, they need to see the results of peace, and they need to see in six months and not six years.”

In this aspect, the World Bank is changing their procedures to be able to respond much more rapidly than in the past, and the board has approved a whole new set of procedures for countries in emergency situations such as the Congo.

The first grant approved under these procedures will be one this month for the DRC of 180 million dollars that will go to improving the urban infrastructure here in the DRC, as part of a US$380 million funding programme for the DRC in 2007.

Furthermore, Mr. Wolwowitz explained that he had seen, not only in DRC but in Burundi and Ghana, ‘enormous needs and enormous opportunity’.

“In each of these three countries there are people who are determined to build a better future, and so I want to appeal to the donors and tax payers in all the rich countries, in Europe, in North America and in Japan, to make available the resources that people here need to do the job.”

In terms of the fight against corruption, he said the World Bank aims to bolster good governance while also providing financial assistance here, to the tune of US$1.4 billion over the next three years, as well as the Bank’s vast experience and expertise.
I want to appeal to the donors and tax payers to make available the resources that people here need to do the job

“We will help this country develop a strategy for strengthening institutions of governance over time, and I think that if you take things a step at a time, it is possible to make a big difference in the level of corruption in a country.”

He added that the biggest obstacle to growth was indeed bribery and corruption, and underlined that the highest standards will be applied to all the World Bank programmes to ensure that ‘procurement is honest and contracting is transparent.’

“I think that only in this way can we protect and make the best use of the resources that we are providing, and hopefully people will learn good practices that can be applied to this countries own resources.”

When questioned on the weakness of the Bank’s funding distribution system, which was seen as being poorly adapted to the realities of Congo, Mr. Wolfowitz admitted that there was a lot of funding committed to the Congo that has not yet been dispersed.

“Its important to find mechanisms to deliver that and if the government institutions are too weak to do it, sometimes we have to improvise, but the important thing is the pace at which these projects are implemented so that the people can see the results on the ground.”
The important thing is the pace at which these projects are implemented so that the people can see the results on the ground

Development Commissioner Louis Michel of the European Union, the DRC’s other major development donor, said that they are donating 161 million euros in 2007, towards reconstruction across many sectors of the economy.

“The Congo is rich with potential and human resources, and we are here to help the country and its new government in its work, and I think that other donors will follow our example, explained Mr. Michel.

Following the conference, Mr. Wolfowitz flew to Paris after his week long visit to the three African countries of Ghana, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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