The World Bank Board of Executive Directors advised its Board of Governors to authorize the US$55 million replenishment of the Gaza and West Bank Trust Fund, a World Bank press release said Thursday.This supports investment in municipal services, energy, water and sanitation, as well as social protection and education.

“Our program with the Palestinian people is designed to support the sustainable development of both the private and public sectors,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.

“Good governance and transparency are key elements in building the Palestinian institutions of state. In parallel, to really drive growth, the energy of private sector has to be unleashed and this means building confidence and removing restrictions to the free flow of commercial activity’, Miriam added.

The Bank also approved a US$40 million development policy grant to support the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) reform program as outlined in the Palestinian National Development Plan (PNDP).

This is the fifth in a series, totaling US$160 million, of budget support grants for public sector governance and transparency reforms.

“The Palestinian Authority has made significant progress in managing its fiscal position, controlling public sector wage bill growth, building a modern public procurement system and rationalizing social assistance,” said Orhan Niksic, World Bank Senior Economist. “It is extremely important that the international community continue working closely with them to support further policy reforms with both resources and knowledge.”

In addition, US$10 million will be allocated to a second Municipal Development Project to improve local management practices and transparency, in line with the national plan’s goals of fiscal decentralization and community participation.

“Supporting reform in local government is central to improving the living conditions of Palestinians. The municipal level plays a crucial role in service delivery,” said Soraya Goga, Senior Urban Specialist.

Since 1994, the World Bank has allocated a total $805 million of its own resources towards Palestinian development.

In addition, it has administered nearly US$1 billion from other donors through the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Multi-Donor Trust Fund since 2008. The Bank’s current portfolio in the West Bank and Gaza includes 18 projects totaling $154 million.