Saturday, Dec 13, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The World Bank's Country Director, Michael Carter, told presspersons here that discussions on increasing lending to India had already taken place with the Government, which wanted the Bank to increase its exposure to India. The Bank would step up loan sanctions to $2.5-3 billion by 2007, from $1.7 billion during July 2003-June 2004.
Mr. Carter also announced a new initiative which could be the first step towards assisting non-governmental organisations directly at the grassroots level. It announced the new initiative called "Country-level Development Marketplace" to breed innovative ideas for improving essential rural services on an outlay of $0.25million. In this endeavour, the Bank would be assisted by the U.K.-based Department for International Development (DfID) and industry chambers FICCI and Assocham.
India is the first country where such an initiative is being launched and it would be replicated elsewhere depending on the success. The United Nations Development Programme and other funding agencies were likely to get involved in the initiative to improve the living conditions in rural India through improvement in water supply, sanitation, roads, education, health, electricity and finance. "Government and citizens can work together to ensure that the key services do not fail people in access, in quality and in quantity. Through the India Country-level Development Marketplace (IDM), we hope we will see the most innovative ideas on how people feel they can improve the access and quality of rural services," Mr. Carter said.
The IDM has two components an Innovative Competition and a Knowledge Forum. The World Bank has invited NGOs, community-based organisations, foundations, academic institutions, and the private sector in the new initiative, which would be started of with a fund of $2,50,000 from which winners would get a grant of $ 10,000-15,000 each. About its role in India, the Bank's Country Director said their assessment was that substantial investment was required in agriculture. The Bank was keen to offer assistance for the development of rural roads, electrification, irrigation and R&D.
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