, OCTOBER 29, 2011 (MANILA TIMES) (PHOTO - President Benigno Aquino 3rd welcomes World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick. The WB official announced a $2 million disaster mitigationgrant for the Philippines. AFP PHOTO)

THE World Bank (WB) on Thursday expressed support for the country’s programs to overcome poverty, especially in creating opportunities for poor and vulnerable Filipinos.

“My visit has helped me better understand the importance of [President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s] program for good governance and the government’s priorities to improve the business climate, develop infrastructure, increase investments in health, and education, and protect the most vulnerable people,” WB chief Robert Zoellick said.

Zoellick announced that the Philippines would receive a grant of US$2 million from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery for a program that would provide access to global best practices on disaster risk reduction.

The funds, which will come from a partnership of 38 countries and seven international agencies including the WB, will support key priorities in the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, which is currently being finalized by the government and its stakeholders.

“I am impressed with the resilience the country has exhibited to recent external shocks, including the impact of typhoons and the El Niño effect,” Zoellick said.

“The country’s strong financial and trade resources and economic fundamentals have helped cushion the impact of the global economic turmoil on the local economy,” he added.

The WB chief’s visit also included meetings with representatives from civil society organizations and the business sector.

Zoellick said that civil society played a fundamental role in promoting good governance and furthering the country’s economic development.

“The Bank supports the government’s moves to invite civil society organizations to be part of the budget scrutiny process. The Philippines has a very dynamic civil society and can offer much to the world in promoting constructive citizen engagement for good governance,” he added.

For his meeting with business leaders, Zoellick said that the WB’s private sector arm, IFC, was intent on increasing its support for the country’s enterprises by raising its rural investments, promoting inclusive urban growth, and encouraging governance improvements for private sector development.

The World Bank Group has committed about $3.7 billion in support of the Philippines. This includes $2.6 billion for 18 projects in water and sanitation, health, education, and disaster management from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which lends to governments; and $933 million from IFC for investments in power, finance and insurance, industrial and consumer products, utilities, health care, and other sectors.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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