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World Bank approves $102.7 million to support Fijians

February 10, 2021 4:40 pm

The World Bank has approved a $102.7m to support recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclones Harold and Yasa.

The project has a special focus on women who have been disproportionally affected by the crisis.

The immense social and economic impact of COVID-19 has brought Fiji’s tourism sector to a virtual standstill that has been worsened by a staggering five tropical cyclones since January 2020.

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These external shocks have resulted in an economic contraction of 19 percent in 2020 and a rise in unemployment to 27 percent.

The Fiji Social Protection COVID-19 Response and System Development Project was announced following the recent approval of the World Bank Group’s new Country Partnership Framework for Fiji.

This will support the government’s COVID-19 relief measures, with a particular focus on cash transfers targeting Fijians in the formal sector who have lost their jobs or have had their working reduced hours.

The project will also assist the government through strengthening the country’s social protection system, and facilitating access to social protection services for all Fijians.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the economic consequences have been devastating for Fijian families.

He says the capital infusion into Fiji’s social protection systems is a lifeline to thousands of vulnerable Fijians in the formal and informal sectors who need urgent assistance.

He adds this will also allow us to establish robust mechanisms that will serve as our first defense against future external shocks.

Meanwhile, the project will also improve access to labour market services and employment support programs to support informal sector workers.

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