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World Bank approves $300 million loan to Jordan

Credit provided on concessional terms to improve employment opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees

By JT - Sep 28,2016 - Last updated at Sep 29,2016

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim (AFP photo)

AMMAN – The World Bank approved on Tuesday a concessionary loan of $300 million to support Jordan’s efforts to improve the investment climate, attract investors, reform the labour market and grant access to the Syrian labour force to contribute to economic growth. 

A statement issued by the bank said the Economic Opportunities for Jordanians and Syrian Refugees Programme, approved by the bank group’s board of directors, will support trade facilitation and investment promotion, especially in existing special economic zones, and foster Jordanian and Syrian entrepreneurship activities.

The World Bank Group has been working with the government and donors to support the authorities in implementing the economic opportunities aspect of the Jordan Compact agreed on at the London conference in February, which involves, in particular, attracting investments and creating jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees. 

The $300 million loan and credit is being provided on concessional terms through the Global Concessional Financing Facility. 

The new initiative is supported by Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States to address refugee crises in middle income countries, and an exceptional International Development Association allocation, at rates usually reserved for the poorest countries.

“As part of the broad international community’s effort to mitigate the impact of the Syria crisis on Jordan, we at the bank, with help and support from a number of partners, notably the UK, are supporting the country in turning what is a major economic and development challenge into an opportunity,” said Ferid Belhaj, director of the World Bank’s Middle East Department. 

“By creating the conditions for increased investment and jobs, and by allowing refugees, during their time in the country, to seek work and contribute to the economy, Jordan is shifting from a purely humanitarian approach to a forward looking development drive. 

“The Jordanian government is to be commended for its foresight and vision and for leading the way for the international community on what still today are unchartered territories.”

As part of the programme and in support of the Jordan Compact implementation, an increasing number of Syrians will receive work permits to be able to access formal jobs and decent labour conditions, the statement said. 

A partnership among the government, donor countries and development actors will improve the investment climate and investment promotion to attract international and domestic investments, it added.

“Improving Jordan’s investment climate is key to attracting investors and creating jobs for both Jordanians and Syrian refugees,” the statement quoted John Speakman, World Bank Group project team leader, as saying.

The opportunities offered in existing special economic zones in terms of increased access to the EU market, and other opportunities that the Jordanian economy offers to local, regional and global investors can materialise quickly if the business environment improves,” Speakman added. 

The operation is the first one to be approved as part of the bank’s new Country Partnership Framework for Jordan released in July 2016. It uses the Programme for Results financing instrument to disburse directly against achieved results, which will help Jordan develop market opportunities that can attract new investments, according to the statement. 

The foreign investments will most likely come from the Syrian business diaspora; regional investors; and investors targeting the EU market, the World Bank said.

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