World Bank Reveals Flagship Initiative for 2011

Sana’a – A representative from the World Bank, Mr. Arun Arya, held a lecture and question session with Yemeni press at the World Bank Information Center on Sunday to provide details on its new initiative to modernize the public finance sector of Yemen.

The initiative was recently approved by the World Bank board of directors and will be implemented from 2011-2015 with a budget of approximately $12 million. This budget is part of a larger $82 million dollar project, the remaining funds of which will go to providing much needed support to the Yemeni Government as it weathers the global financial crisis.

The $12 million initiative will focus on improving transparency and efficiency of Yemen’s public management of finances.   Mr. Arya, the World Bank Team lead for this project, stressed that this new project will be primarily implemented by the Ministry of Finance while the World Bank will provide technical assistance and support.

Through this, the project seeks to improve two key aspects of modernizing and improving the Yemeni financial system as well as increasing the transparency of the public finance management institutions.

This will include hard aspects such a computerized financial management system that will increase accountability among the government in its budgeting process. It will also include soft aspects, such as an emphasis on strengthening the capacity and improving the speed of the decision-making process of the public finance sector.

These initiatives intend to overcome problems that have been commonly found throughout the public finance sector, such as the lack of coordination in reporting of budgets of the central government and regional governorates.

It will also seek to match the government budget with the actual existing amounts of cash flow as these have rarely matched in the past, stymieing government disbursements of funds. Furthermore, it will seek to improve the decision making process of the public finance sector significantly decreasing the time individuals and organizations need in order accomplish work with it.

Serious concerns remain if the government has the capacity to utilize the new financial system and implement the recommended changes that the initiative includes. Mr. Arya, agrees that the capacity of the public finance sector is not at its full potential but stresses that this is a main focus of the program.

Mr. Arya added, “17% of the allotted budget for this program will go towards exactly that, improving the capacity of the public finance personnel so that they can implement the needed reforms” that will make the system more accountable, efficient and transparent.

Mr. Arya noted that “by the end of the implementation of this project, the capacity and efficiency of the public finance center will be markedly increased.”