World Bank says it has funded US$1,6 bln worth of development projects since 1980



Guang Zhe Chen

THE new World Bank country director for seven SADC member countries, including Zimbabwe, arrived in the country on Thursday for the first time on a two day working visit.

Guang Zhe Chen is the Bretton Woods institution’s new country director for Zimbabwe and its regional peers; Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

His posting will help cement the ongoing process of re-engagement between Zimbabwe and the World Bank, which has financed development projects valued at over US$1,6 billion in Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Chen will hold discussions with senior Government officials, principally Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Patrick Chinamasa; diplomats, development partners and representatives of the private sector among others.

“Our twin goals at the World Bank Group are to eradicate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. We look forward to a fruitful engagement with Zimbabwe in order to support the country to deal with its developmental challenges and to make our goals a reality,” said the World Bank Country Director to Zimbabwe, on arrival in the country.

Chen was appointed country director for Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe on July 18, 2015 and is based in Pretoria, South Africa.

In this position, Chen will lead the development and implementation of the World Bank’s country partnership strategies for the seven countries across the southern Africa region.

Prior to taking up this new posting, Chen served as the World Bank’s country director for Ethiopia from 2011 to 2015.

On September 12, 2015 the World Bank will mark 30 years of continuous presence in Zimbabwe. The first office was opened in 1985 in Mt. Pleasant. FinX

Two weeks ago, the World Bank has availed a US$20 million grant to assist Zimbabwe in improving its Public Finance Management System.

Speaking at the ACCA regional public sector governance and internal control conference held in Victoria Falls, World Bank Senior Financial Management Specialist, Daniel Yaw Domelevo said the Public Financial Management Enhancement Project is expected to commence before year end.

“We have availed a US$20 million grant for the Public Financial Management Enhancement Project which will assist government in improving its financial reporting through installing new models of the software that they have been using. The grant is also aimed at improving internal audit so that they can check the control systems in place to see whether people are complying with the requirements of financial management and the law,”

Beyond this, he said the World Bank will also help the office of the auditor general to perform its function and assist government departments to improve its auditing skills. He said the World Bank will further assist parliament in capacity building so that members have a better appreciation of audit reports. The program will also be extended to local government and city councils around the country.

He said the only way that government and local authorities can improve their reporting in the near future is to go the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route as the private sector possesses skills that are devoid in government structures.

He called on government to migrate from the crude cash based accounting to accrual based accounting which shows a better reflection on public finance performance. According to the International Federation of Accounts (IFAC), no government can be considered transparent until they adopt accrual based accounting.

Domelevo said Africa is lagging behind in adoption of accrual accounting as compared to other regions.

“Governments must implement the necessary institutional arrangements required to enhance public sector financial management transparency and accountability. An integral and essential part of these arrangements is the use of accrual-based accounting—through the adoption and implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs), which promotes greater transparency and accountability in public sector finances and allows for enhanced monitoring of government debt and liabilities for their true economic implications,” he said.

He said transparency can help attract cheaper international credit while capacity in fiscal matters contributes significantly to the suffering being felt directly by the citizens of the crisis-stricken countries.