World Bank Commits $58.8 Billion to Battle Economic Crisis

For 2009, the bank supported 767 projects to promote economic growth, fight poverty, and assist private businesses.

The World Bank said Wednesday it had allocated a record $58.8 billion in the fiscal year just ended as it scrambled to help countries cope with the global economic crisis. The commitment in the 2009 fiscal year ended June 30 marked a 54% increase over the previous year and "a record high" for the global development institution, the bank said. "Requests for assistance from the World Bank Group rose sharply this year, and we expect this to continue well into 2010, as the pace of recovery is far from certain," said World Bank president Robert Zoellick. "Millions of people are still suffering, and we must continue to help countries safeguard priority expenditures, including on essential infrastructure, investment in human capital, and social safety nets, or we will further jeopardize hard-fought gains over recent years in overcoming poverty," he said. For 2009, the bank supported 767 projects to promote economic growth, fight poverty, and assist private businesses. They included $20.7 billion in infrastructure financing, a critical sector to provide the foundation for rapid recovery from the crisis and job creation, the bank said in a statement. Support for safety nets and other social protection programs totaled $4.5 billion. To help developing countries weather the impacts of the crisis, the World Bank this year proposed a "vulnerability fund," with each developed country asked to pledge the equivalent of 0.7% of its economic stimulus package as additional aid through bilateral aid, UN agencies or non-governmental organizations. The bank said it received a "strong response," with donor support totaling $6.8 billion -- over and above previous commitments to the institution. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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