WB to loan Vietnam $522 mil for urban, energy, forest development

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The World Bank approved loans worth US$522 million to develop Vietnam's urban, energy and forest sectors on March 22.

A bank press release said the loans will fund an upgrade of the Mekong Delta's urban infrastructure, a series of power sector reforms and a forest development project.

The support is in line with the bank's new Country Partnership Strategy for 2012-2016.

Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam, said, "[The operations] address emerging challenges such as rapid urbanization, the need for an efficient power sector to meet Vietnam's rapidly growing demand for power to support rapid growth, and the importance of sustainable management of Vietnam's forest resources to help move rural communities out of poverty."

The Mekong Delta Region Urban Upgrading project will improve roads, drainage systems, canals, the water supply and sanitation, public facilities, and the supply of power for more than 1.5 million people in six cities of the region - Can Tho, My Tho, Cao Lanh, Ca Mau, Rach Gia, and Tra Vinh. The Bank has set aside $292 million for the project.

The Power Sector Reform Development Policy Operation, which will receive $200 million, will help facilitate effective competition, transparent and predictable pricing and tariffs within the power industry. The reforms are also expected to draw more investment and educate the public on how to use electricity more efficiently.

Under the three year Forest Sector Development Project, forest cover is expected to increase, as will the income of local forest owners.

The $30 million project will be executed within six central coastal provinces, increasing the role local forest owners will play in terms of strengthening the management of protected areas.

Since 1993, Vietnam has received nearly $15 billion in loans and grants from the World Bank for growth and poverty reduction programs.

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