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Afghanistan will Need Continued International Support after Political Settlement

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Afghanistan will need continued financial support from the international community following a potential political settlement, says a new World Bank report that examines the country’s overall medium-term financing needs under a range of political and economic scenarios.

The World Bank concludes that Afghanistan will require $6 billion to $8 billion a year in international grants between 2020 and 2024 to fund basic services, support faster economic growth, and consolidate and sustain any potential reduction in violence following a political settlement with the Taliban.

An improving security situation, political stability, and freedom of movement can help increase private sector investment and job creation. But the gap between revenue and public expenditure remains large, and certain expenditure needs may increase following a political settlement,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “While a gradual decline in grant support can and should occur, it needs to be carefully calibrated to economic realities, to avoid deterioration in services and development outcomes. Such a deterioration may, itself, imperil prospects for sustainable peace

While Afghanistan has achieved remarkable progress in increasing revenues over recent years, the gap between revenues and expenditures remains wide. Afghanistan continues to rely on grants to finance 75 percent of its total public expenditures. Total revenues currently amount to around $2.5 billion per year, while expenditures reach around $11 billion per year. 

Due to the current extent of dependence on aid, a sharp reduction in either security or civilian grants would mean insufficient resources to meet pressing expenditure needs, including: security spending, delivery of basic government functions such as social services and infrastructure,  public investments for faster economic growth and poverty reduction, and short-term job creation and community development programs following a political settlement, which will be vital to sustain and consolidate peace.

The report also finds that expectations of a major aid-driven economic dividend following any political settlement are unlikely to be realized. Grant inflows are likely to remain limited under any scenario, relative to the extent of grant support already being provided. The most critical gains for Afghans following any political settlement would rather come from increased private sector investment, job creation, and access to services.

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Finance

World Bank Group Sanctions Two Chinese Engineering Companies for 18 months

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The World Bank Group today announced the 18-month sanctions of China National Electric Engineering Company Limited (“CNEEC”) and its wholly owned subsidiary, China Electric Design and Research Institute Company Limited (“CEDRI”), both international engineering companies, in connection with fraudulent practices as part of the Lusaka Transmission and Distribution Rehabilitation Project in Zambia.

CEDRI has been sanctioned with debarment with conditional release, which makes the company ineligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group. The debarment is part of a settlement agreement under which CEDRI admits responsibility for the underlying sanctionable practices and agrees to meet specified corporate compliance conditions as a condition for release from debarment.

CNEEC has been sanctioned with conditional non-debarment, which means that it remains eligible to participate in projects and operations financed by institutions of the World Bank Group as long as it complies with its obligations under the settlement agreement. Otherwise, the conditional non-debarment will convert to a sanction of debarment with conditional release, and the company then will become ineligible to participate in World Bank Group projects and operations until the conditions for release set out in the settlement agreement are met.  

The project was designed to increase the capacity and improve the reliability of the electricity transmission and distribution system in Lusaka, Zambia. According to the facts of the case, CEDRI engaged in fraudulent practices by failing to disclose a conflict of interest and by presenting false documents with CNEEC’s company name in order to meet the requirements of a contract under the project. CNEEC, as a controlling affiliate of CEDRI, failed to oversee CEDRI’s misconduct.

The settlement agreement provides for reduced periods of sanction in light of both companies’ cooperation. As a condition for release from sanction under the terms of the settlement agreement, the companies commit to developing an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines. CNEEC and CEDRI also commit to continue to fully cooperate with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency. 

The debarment of CEDRI qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks (MDBs) under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed on April 9, 2010.

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Development

World Bank Announces ‘Mission Billion Challenge’ Winners

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Leaders from around the world—including H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as UNSGSA, the President of Estonia, and Ministers from Indonesia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo—called on countries to prioritize development of inclusive and trusted digital ID systems as part of a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic at the World Bank and IMF Annual Meeting event on October 21. The event also announced the winners of the ID4D Mission Billion Innovation Challenge to remove barriers to accessing and using such digital platforms.

Panelists highlighted how digital ID systems, together with a broader set of foundational digital infrastructure such as digital payments and platforms for trusted data sharing, can help build more resilient digital economies and societies when they are designed inclusively and with people at the center. Countries that had this infrastructure in place and accessible to people before the pandemic have been able to deliver emergency cash assistance to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 more quickly and effectively, and maintain better continuity in services by shifting from physical to online delivery during lockdowns and quarantines. 

 “Now is the time for accelerated action: to get every person a digital ID that enables their access to services and ensures their privacy; and to have all countries prepared not only to respond better to the next crisis but to take advantage of the new opportunities being created by the digital economy,” said Dr. Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director for Development Policy and Partnerships.

 “The crisis has created momentum in many countries to implement new ID systems, or boost coverage and strengthen the capabilities of existing ones. Sequencing and coordination are particularly important as the urgency of the pandemic might result in decisions not always being aligned across the government or with global best practices,” said Queen Máxima, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). 

Winners of the World Bank Group’s Mission Billion Innovation Challenge were revealed, with a total of $150,000 in prize money and the opportunity to work with World Bank teams to further develop, pilot and scale their ideas. Given how the crisis has highlighted the critical need for digital ID systems and other platforms to work for all people, the theme of this year’s Challenge was inclusion:

  • The Global prize sought new ways to enable vulnerable populations—such as people with limited digital access and marginalized women and girls—to obtain digital IDs and use them to verify their identities and access remote services. The top winners announced by Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, were Kiva Protocol, Mobile Vaani, and Special Olympics Nigeria, all three sharing first place and together addressing inclusion across the full identification lifecycle.
  • The WURI West Africa prize called for solutions to facilitate contributions to social insurance programs, such as pensions and savings accounts, by informal sector workers. The winners, announced by Mamta Murthi, World Bank Vice President for Human Development, were Naa Sika in first place and Tonti+ in second place.

About the Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative

The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative helps countries realize the transformational potential of digital identification. ID4D works with countries and partners across sectors to enable all people to exercise their rights and to access services by closing the gap in identification for the estimated 1 billion people currently without any proof of identity, and improving the quality and utility of digital identification and civil registration systems in line with the Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development. ID4D has three pillars of activity: country and regional engagement; thought leadership; and global convening and platforms. ID4D is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Government, the French Government, and the Omidyar Network.

About the Mission Billion Challenge

In its second year, Mission Billion, supported by MIT Solve platform, aims to spur practical and innovative solutions to challenges developing countries face in implementing digital ID systems. It is hosted by the World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Government, the French Government, and Omidyar Network. This year attracted 370 solutions from academics, entrepreneurs, scientists, and technologists based in 59 countries. The 2019 edition focused on privacy and user empowerment of their identification.

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Development

A framework agreement of cooperation between IsDB and Standard Chartered Bank

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IsDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar and M. Sunil Kaushal, CEO for Africa and Middle East, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), signed a Memorandum of Agreement to participate in IsDB’s Restore Track Program aimed to supporting IsDB’s member countries’ private sector through stimulus packages to the economic sectors most impacted by the CoVID19 pandemic.

This agreement leverages on IsDB’s $2Bn “COVID Guarantee Facility” to establish an operational cooperation framework for IsDB and SCB to facilitate financing arrangements to IsDB’s Member Countries.

The COVID pandemic has disrupted international financial channels and put pressure on hard currency inflows to Emerging Markets. This pressure led to considerable limitations of the private sector’s access to financial liquidity. Combined with the loss of income due to reduced demand, the health crisis poses unprecedented challenges to the private sector and especially SMEs.

Through its cooperation with Standard Chartered Bank, IsDB aims to help alleviate some of these pressures by providing blended lines of finance to local banks at competitive prices.

“I am glad to see our, already strong, relationship with Standard Chartered Bank further strengthened with this unique and innovative partnership” stated H.E IsDB’s President, Dr. Bandar Al Hajjar. He also expressed his firm conviction that SCB’s funding expertise added to IsDB de-risking guarantees will make a lasting impact for IsDB’s Members Countries.

M. Sunil Kaushal expressed his thanks to IsDB for the developing partnership between the two institutions noting that IsDB is the first Bank to sign such agreement with SCB. He also expressed his strong commitment to support IsDB member countries to fight COVID-19.

Both agree that this “out of the box” partnerships between MDBs and the private sector are now necessary to overcome the challenges of our times.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is a multilateral development bank (MDB) counting 57 member countries across four continents – touching the lives of 1 in 5 of the world’s population.

IsDB works to improve the lives of those it serves by promoting social and economic development, delivering impact at scale. IsDB is one of the world’s most active MDBs, and global leaders in Islamic Finance, with a AAA rating. Headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, IsDB is a truly global institution with major hubs in Morocco, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Senegal; and gateway offices in Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 60 of the world’s most dynamic markets and serving clients in a further 85. SCB’s purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through it unique diversity, and heritage; and values are expressed in it brand promise, “Here for good”.

Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.

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