Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 29:

The World Bank has approved a $3 million grant to Nepal to help finance technical assistance needs of its comprehensive reform agenda. The bank has also stated the assistance is a part of its continuous support to Nepal.

The grant, which comes under the Economic Reform Technical Assistance Project (ERTA), intends to strengthen home-grown reforms in the areas of public sector capacity, service delivery, social inclusion, governance and reduction in the unproductive public sector intervention in the economy. All these issues will be critical to place Nepal on a higher growth path, states a World Bank statement, today.

“Key policymakers in Nepal are keenly aware that these improvements are central

to promoting social equity and building lasting peace,” reads the statement quoting Kenichi Ohashi, World Bank country director for Nepal, as saying.

“This is reflected in Nepal’s Poverty Reduction Strategy which has formed the foundation for strong internal pressures to reform. However, Nepali policymakers do not always find solutions to their technical problems in assistance provided by Nepal’s external development partners. This project is an attempt to help Nepal’s reformers close the knowledge gap by sourcing and servicing technical assistance needs from wherever they see fit,” he added.

Project funds are intended to support initiatives, as requested, in the areas of improving governance and public sector management, accelerating privatisation, improving service delivery, and a strategic communications programme that helps build wider public understanding of the government’s reform efforts. The project is structured to provide flexibility in the use of the funds, which can finance the hiring of skilled professionals, consultants, and training.

“With this grant, the Bank is trying to help the government implement innovative and indigenous solutions to Nepal’s problems, using qualified Nepalis from the public and private sectors as well as the diaspora, wherever possible,” says Ismail Radwan, a senior private sector development specialist with the World Bank.

“Where the know-how is not available locally, these grant funds can be used by the government to supplement local capacity with relevant international experts. The project will support reforming public sector agencies in the implementation of reforms that should improve public sector performance and economic management, for the eventual benefit of all Nepalis,” he said.

The project will be financed by a grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the concessionary arm of the World Bank Group. It is expected that this initial seed capital will encourage the wider community of Nepal’s development partners to align their technical assistance grants to the demands of Nepal’s reforming agencies.