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Developing world champion World Bank to aid Greece

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 07:14
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People are silhouetted under a fluttering Greek national flag atop the archaeological site of the Athens Acropolis, Greece in this Mar 20, 2015 file photo.

[WASHINGTON] The World Bank is planning financial aid for Greece through its private-sector arm, stepping outside its traditional role of supporting low-income countries, a Bank official told AFP on Tuesday.

The World Bank provided technical assistance to Greece in 2012, as its economy reeled from a debt crisis, but has not extended financial aid to the country in several decades.

"We are considering a select engagement in Greece at the request of the Greek government," said Dimitris Tsitsiragos, the head of international investment operations and advisory services at the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

"With all that happened in the country over the last five years, the impact on the economy, the decrease in GDP... it makes sense to look at select opportunities as part of this temporary engagement," he said, adding that an objective was "boosting investors' confidence in the country."

In July, the eurozone member country struck a three-year, 86 billion euro (S$132.6 billion) bailout with the European Union, its third rescue plan since 2010.

In this context, the IFC hopes to jump-start private investment at a time when Greek banks are still too weak to support development, the official said.

The IFC lends money to companies to support private-sector development projects, such as bolstering clean energy, telecommunications and infrastructure.

Though the 188-nation World Bank normally serves developing countries, members of the institution have supported a temporary engagement by the IFC in Greece, considered a developed country, Mr Tsitsiragos said.

In the late 1990s, another developed country, South Korea, had also received exceptional IFC support.

The amount of financing for Greece, as well as its timetable, are still not known, the official said.

Though uncertainty in the country and a string of elections may have delayed certain projects, there is private-sector interest, notably since Greece received its first installment of European aid in August, Mr Tsitsiragos said.

"Investors clearly are looking at how the agreement with the Europeans is being implemented," he said.

AFP

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