26 August 2021
The Hon Minister for Finance, Mr. Tevita Lavemaau, on behalf of the Government of Tonga, signed the World Bank Group Establishment Agreement to a stronger partnership, with World Bank Regional Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa and IFC Vice President for Asia and the Pacific, Alfonso Garcia Mora, during a signing ceremony at the World Bank Group Tonga Office, on Tuesday 24 August,2021 at the National Reserve Bank Building.
This agreement reflects the World Bank Group’s rapidly growing engagement in the Pacific with similar agreements signed in other countries of the subregion in recent years. The World Bank Group also has a South Pacific hub in Suva, as well as offices in Funafuti, Nuku’alofa, Apia, Honiara, Port Moresby, Port Vila, and Tarawa with a planned North Pacific office in the Federated States of Micronesia.
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific supporting 86 projects totaling US$2.06 billion in commitments in sectors like agriculture, health, education and employment, climate resilience and adaptation, energy, fisheries, rural development, economic policy, macroeconomic management, aviation and transport, telecommunications, and tourism.
“This is an important milestone for Tonga’s partnership with the World Bank Group and we look forward to expanding this engagement into other areas aligned with Tonga’s sustainable development priorities,” said Tonga’s Minister of Finance, the Hon. Tevita Lavemaau.
“The World Bank’s support to Tonga has increased significantly since it first joined the World Bank in 1985, delivering approximately US$274 million in support across 29 projects, with nine active projects today,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank’s Regional Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.
“This agreement enables us to deepen our partnership and support to Tonga, for a robust recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and boost longer term resilience to climate-related and public health emergencies.”
As the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets, IFC is committed to working with Tonga and the nations across the Pacific to develop a more robust private sector and lay the ground for more investment opportunities. In Tonga, IFC is already helping to boost financial resilience, including through innovation in areas such as remittances which provide a vital income stream for Tongan families, support small businesses, and drive economic activity.
“The signing of this agreement comes at a critical time when the country is facing significant impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we look forward to deepening our engagement with Tonga and expanding on what has already been a strong partnership,” said Alfonso Garcia Mora, IFC Vice President for Asia and Pacific.
“The private sector has a critical role to play in reigniting economic growth around the globe, and IFC sees significant opportunities in Tonga, including through public-private partnerships or using our expertise to improve the investment climate and provide private sector solutions to support growth and jobs.”
This year marks 36 years since Tonga first became a member of the World Bank Group.
The ceremony was also attended by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga Governor, Dr. Ngongo Kioa; Rev the Dr. Mele’ana Puloka; Government Ministries and Agencies CEOs and colleagues.