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Bank Lending Improves, Rises in FY99

     
New lending commitments from the World Bank to client countries were up in fiscal year 1999, which ended on June 30, reaching a record $29 billion, with disbursements at $24 billion.

The figures include both the market-rate loans made by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the concessional loans made to the world's poorest countries through the International Development Association (IDA). By comparison, total IBRD and IDA lending commitments were $28.6 billion in FY98 and $19.1 billion in FY97.

While lending commitments were on the rise, overall lending quality also improved. Virtually all indicators of project quality and performance improved over the course of FY99. In particular, the share of projects at risk of not achieving their development objectives declined significantly. At the same time, the quality of new projects entering the portfolio improved.

"While we see for a second fiscal year that the financial crisis has resulted in record lending, I am cheered to see the increase in the quality of loans we have provided, as this points to real results on the ground," said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn.

The high level of lending commitments was due in large part to the Bank's continued support to East Asia. Lending to the Latin America and Caribbean region also increased, partly in response to ripple effects from the East Asian crisis and Hurricane Mitch.

IBRD loan commitments in FY99 amounted to $22.2 billion for 131 projects, compared with $21 billion for 151 projects in FY98. IDA commitments were $6.8 billion for 145 projects in FY99, compared with $7.5 billion in FY98. Lending for the social sectors - education, health, nutrition, and social protection - accounted for 25 percent of FY99 lending.

IBRD/IDA combined gross disbursements during FY99 were $24 billion, compared to nearly $25.5 billion in FY98. IBRD gross disbursements totaled $18 billion, compared with $19.8 billion in FY98; IDA gross disbursements in FY99 rose to $6 billion, compared with $5.6 billion in the previous fiscal year.

In addition to lending operations, the Bank's Board approved one IBRD partial credit guarantee for Thailand ($300 million) and one IDA partial risk guarantee for Cote d'Ivoire ($30 million).

Results by Region

New lending commitments to Africa in FY99 totaled $2.07 billion for 56 projects. Of this amount, $2.06 billion were IDA credits (55 projects), and $5 million were IBRD loans. In FY98, combined lending to the region totaled $2.87 billion.

Overall, the East Asia and Pacific region received the most in new lending - $9.76 billion in new IBRD/IDA commitments for 55 projects - $8.75 billion from IBRD and $1.01 billion from IDA. The region received $9.62 billion from IBRD/IDA in FY98.

In South Asia, $2.56 billion in new IBRD/IDA commitments were approved in FY99 for 18 projects. Of this, $750 million was from IBRD and $1.81 billion was from IDA. FY98 combined lending to the region came to $3.86 billion.

The countries of Europe and Central Asia saw $5.29 billion for 74 projects approved for FY99 - $4.35 billion from IBRD and $936 million from IDA. This compares with $5.22 billion in FY98 ($4.46 billion from IBRD; $762 million from IDA).

Commitments by IBRD and IDA to Latin America and the Caribbean in FY99 totaled $7.74 billion for 51 projects, with $7.13 billion in IBRD loans and $604 million in IDA credits. Loans to the region in FY98 were $6.04 billion - $5.68 billion from IBRD and $360 million from IDA.

New commitments to the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in FY99 amounted to $1.58 billion for 22 projects, compared to $968 million in FY97. Of this amount, $1.19 billion was in IBRD loans and $387 million in IDA credits. In addition to IBRD/IDA financing, an addition $54 million was committed through the trust fund for the West Bank and Gaza.

Helpful links: To learn more about IDA, visit http://www.worldbank.org/ida.

For more on the Bank's lending results for FY99, contact David Theis in Washington at (202) 473-1955 or Merrell Tuck at (202) 473-9516.





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