(From Maan News)
WASHINGTON - World Bank managing director and MENA region vice president visited the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday and Sunday, noting successes in service delivery in the areas.
Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region Shamshad Akhtar met Palestinian leaders and toured projects supported by the World Bank during a two-day official visit.
“I have witnessed the remarkable persistence of the Palestinian people in developing their society and economy under extremely challenging conditions,” Indrawati said following the tour.
The delegation inspected progress on the North Gaza Emergency Sewage Treatment project, administered by the World Bank. The project to upgrade Gaza's sewage treatment facilities was established after the March 2007 collapse of the Beit Lahia sewage lake, in which the nearby village of Um Al Nasser was completely flooded, killing five and displacing approximately 2,000 people.
The sewage project was damaged in Israel's 2008-9 invasion of Gaza. Israel 's blockade of Gaza obstructed the passage of construction materials to complete the project according to an internal World Bank document in 2009. A pumping station was completed in summer 2010 and a wastewater treatment plant began construction in November 2011. The sewage project is needed to meet the needs of 300,000 residents of Gaza, according to a World Bank statement.
In the West Bank, the delegation met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority Jihad Al-Wazi. Akhtar noted the achievements of the PA in institution-building as the basis of a future state, describing the Palestine Monetary Authority as a "model." In January 2011 the Palestine Monetary Authority said the framework for issuing a new currency, the Palestine Pound, would be set in the coming months.
The World Bank officials also met senior civil servants, private sector and civil society leaders, as well as Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rafi Barak.
"We hope that constraints will be reduced to allow the private sector to grow further and reach new markets,” Akhtar added.
The visit followed a three-day fact-finding mission by the World Bank’s Executive Directors, who oversee the day-to-day operations of the World Bank, including approval of all lending operations, policies and strategies, and institutional budgets and audits.
Private sector reconstruction in Gaza was boosted on Feb. 15 by a €1.2 million EU contribution to the PA-administered Gaza reconstruction fund.
Entry of construction materials for Gazan private sector remains banned by Israel. Projects supervised by international agencies receive limited goods. Last week 113 truckloads of building materials entered Gaza.