|Tang Li, Arab News|
SINGAPORE, 10 February 2007 — Bahrain’s efforts to develop a more diversified economy with greater transparency and a stronger private sector received a ringing endorsement from Juan José Daboub, managing director of the World Bank.
Daboub provided his assessment on Bahrain’s reform efforts at the end of a two-day visit where he met with Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamad Al-Khalifa, and Mohamed ibn Mubarak Al-Khalifa, deputy prime minister.
Daboub, who was leading a delegation that included World Bank executive director for the several Middle Eastern countries, Merza Hasan, and World Bank vice president of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, Daniela Gressani, praised Bahrain’s efforts to diversify its economy, improve transparency and stimulate greater investment in the private sector as well as to create greater employment opportunities.
Bahrain, like many GCC nations faces the challenge of providing employment opportunities for a growing population of young nationals and government efforts have focused on increasing productivity as well as the demand for employment of nationals through various incentives such as insurance and social protection schemes.
“As a global institution, this is an opportunity to learn from Bahrain’s experience and share what we have learnt through our work in other parts of the world,” Daboub said. “It is also an opportunity for the Kingdom to consider participating in IDA and support the development efforts in developing countries that could benefit from its experiences.”
During his meetings with the Minister of Finance Ahmed ibn Mohammed Al-Khalifa and Minister of Social Affairs Fatima Al-Balooshi, Daboub highlighted the importance of deepening structural reforms, fiscal sustainability and capacity building.
The World Bank is currently supporting Bahrain’s program for economic and social development through a Technical Cooperation Program. For the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, Bahrain represents an important partner in the region.
Recently, the IFC invested $200 million in the Ahli United Bank of Bahrain to support their regional expansion plan
“We have learned through our experience in other countries that participation, transparency and effective communication are key to the success of reform,” said Gressani. “We look forward to supporting the efforts of our partners as they move ahead with reform.”