World Bank’s drive to invest in Iraq’s construction unaffected by violence

The World Bank’s drive to revive Iraq’s weakened economy will not suffer despite the country's security situation

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By  Rhys Jones Published  April 24, 2004

The World Bank’s drive to revive Iraq’s weakened economy should not suffer serious delay because of the spiraling violence in the country, the head of the Bank’s mission to Iraq has said. Faris Hadad-Zervos said a breakdown in law and order might hamper the bank’s efforts to rebuild, but reliance on Iraqis would keep the process going. “There is no doubt the existing security situation is a precarious one and raises some obstacles for us in terms of logistics,” said the official who is overseeing a US $400 million interim programme from World Bank offices in Jordan. “But the World Bank’s reliance on Iraqis to implement mitigates against a serious delay in the work programme...For us, the Iraqis are there and they are the driving force,” Zervos added. Emergency rehabilitation and the reconstruction of Iraq are top priorities of the World Bank’s president, James Wolfensohn. Another aim of the interim programme is training Iraqi civil servants to oversee and spend aid. Decades of economic mismanagement have led some international donors to argue that Iraq will be unable to handle billions of dollars of aid. But Hadad-Zervos said much of the required training of Iraqis on project implementation, procurement and financial management had been finished before a wave of violence disrupted travel between Baghdad and World Bank offices in Jordan. “Up until last week, we had a steady flow of people...This is only a hiccup rather than a serious setback,” he said, adding that only two training sessions have so far been postponed.

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