World Bank approves $106m for unemployment aid

FILE PHOTO: A participant stands near a logo of World Bank at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo

The World Bank has approved $106 million in support for unemployment assistance and the creation of about 10,000 jobs through the new Jobs for Nature 2.0 (JFN2) cash-for-work program in Fiji.

Approved by the board of executive directors, the additional financing for the World Bank’s Fiji Social Protection COVID-19 Response and System Development Project will support the creation of jobs of between three to 12 months in duration for 10,000 Fijians.

The JFN2 initiative also covered two rounds of government cash assistance delivered in 2021 to more than 340,000 Fijians who had lost their jobs – whether in formal or informal employment – as a result of the pandemic.

The new package will also support the strengthening of Fiji’s social protection system.

In a statement, World Bank’s South Pacific resident representative Lasse Melgaard said the past two years have been extremely tough for Fijian families.

“With this additional funding, we are further boosting our support to Fiji’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the systems and processes needed to assist those Fijians who need help when they need it the most, especially women and youth, while simultaneously bolstering Fiji’s disaster and climate resilience,” she said.

Mr Melgaard said this was in addition to the earlier social protection package approved in February 2021, in response to Fiji experiencing its largest economic contraction in 2020 and 2021 following the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic and natural disasters.

Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said Fiji’s ongoing recovery must not only reclaim jobs and economic activity stolen by the pandemic but must reset its course for inclusive, sustainable, and resilient development.

“Robust engagement with our partners, like the World Bank, is foundational to the future we’re looking to build,” he said.

“This funding support will go directly to continuing our excellent, multi-sector work begun last year to strengthen the resilience of our most climate vulnerable communities and households.”

The JFN2 cash-for-work program was a community-focused program to create jobs for Fijians in rural areas across the country and would be delivered with the support of Fijian village cooperatives and civil society groups, including women’s and youth groups.

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