World Bank gives Samoa $62 million in grants

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors have approved US$25 million ($62 million tala) in grants to support Samoa’s social and economic response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As well as boost the country’s efforts to build resilience to climate change, natural disasters and health-related risks.

The approval of the grants was announced in a press statement issued by the World Bank on Sunday evening, which further stated that the financing supports Government measures to assist workers affected by COVID-19 and increase benefits for the elderly. 

Reforms supported by the operation will also help to bolster the Government’s revenue collection and improve the management of fiscal risks associated with state-owned enterprises. To ensure greater resilience to climate change and natural disasters, the World Bank support has helped develop legislation to improve Samoa’s early warning systems and drive improved standards for buildings. 

The operation has also supported legislative changes to protect children from infectious diseases.

Samoa’s Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said the country continues to feel the impact of the pandemic and the grant assistance from the Washington D.C.-based multilateral organisation will enable the Government to continue its support for citizens.

“We have all felt the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19; impacts that require strategic and sustainable approaches to help our economy, our people and ecosystems to come out stronger,” he said in the press release.“This support from the World Bank will be critical to ensure that we can provide assistance to those Samoans who need it the most, whilst also having funds we can call on in case of a natural disaster in the future.”

The World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, Michel Kerf, said the bank is please support Samoa’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

“In a year of considerable challenges for Samoans, we are pleased to support Samoa’s efforts to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19, protect Samoan families’ livelihoods, and boost the country’s resilience to future climate-related and health shocks,” he added.

The operation provides US$15 million as an upfront grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the most in-need countries, with a further IDA grant of US$10 million under a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO) that is available for withdrawal in the event of a significant natural, climate-related or health disaster. 

A similar mechanism was drawn on in the wake of the measles outbreak in 2019, and again in March 2020 to bolster the Samoa Government’s financial capacity to support COVID-19 preparedness and response.

The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 84 projects totaling US$1.73 billion in commitments in sectors including agriculture, aviation and transport, climate and disaster resilience, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, macroeconomic management, rural development, telecommunications and tourism.

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