(MARCH 1Reuters)The World Bank Thursday approved its first aid package for war-torn Bosnia$45 million in emergency loans and grants to help the country buy critical imports and support its poor with cash payments.
The package, which consists of $30 million in low-cost loans and $15 million in grants, is part of a $160 million project to help put Bosnia back on the road to economic recovery after 3 1/2 years of war.
Other contributors include a number of industrial nations, the European Union, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Soros Foundation, a non-profit group funded by Wall Street financier George Soros.
The money will also be used to help provide lines of credit to small and medium sized companies and to rebuild battered government buildings.
The $30 million in World Bank loans will have a maturity of 40 years and carry no interest charge.
World Bank: Bosnia Peace Process in
Jeopardy Unless U.S. Provides More Aid"
Pressures Congress to Act on Bosnian Aid
(WASHINGTONFEBRUARY 28Reuters) - A senior World Bank official warned Wednesday that the Bosnia peace process could suffer a bad blow if the United States does not soon approve an extra $200 million in reconstruction aid for the war-torn nation.
Bank Vice President Kemal Dervis told reporters that a crucial international aid conference for Bosnia scheduled for mid-April would have to be postponed if Congress failed to act in time. ``We cannot have a donor meeting in April unless the United States has the authority (to contribute),'' he said, adding, ''That could lead to a massive contraction of the donor effort for Bosnia'' as other countries followed suit.
The World Bank is spearheading a multi-billion dollar drive to shore up peace in Bosnia by helping it put its shattered economy back together after 3 1/2 years of war. Donors, including the United States, Europe and other industrial nations, have already pledged some $620 million to help launch the reconstruction drive.
The April 12-13 ministerial meeting in Brussels is supposed to raise enough pledges to cover the remaining $4.5 billion the World Bank calculates Bosnia will need over the next three to four years, including some $1.2 billion in 1996.
The Bank's board is expected to approve the organization's first contribution to the effort Thursday -- $45 million to help Bosnia buy critical imports such as food seed, repair battered buildings and support the poor with cash payments.
Dervis voiced optimism that the Republican-led Congress would support the Clinton administration's request for an extra $200 million in reconstruction funds for Bosnia in 1996. But it is not clear that such optimism is warranted. Republican lawmakers have questioned President Clinton's commitment of men, materiel and money to Bosnia.
The $200 million would come on top of $50 million already authorized for this year and would be part of some $650 million planned by the administration over three years.
European nations have already complained that the United States is not doing its share in the effort to rebuild Bosnia.
The $45 million in aid the World Bank is expected to approve Thursday will consist of $15 million in grants and a $30 million credit and will be part of a $160 million project which will include contributions from Europe and elsewhere.
The Bank is discussing three other projects with Bosnia this week -- $113 million for transport and $70 million each for agriculture and water supply. It would likely contribute on the order of $15-$20 million to each. But bigger World Bank loans hinge on resolving the problem of some $455 million in debt arrears to the lending agency that Bosnia inherited from the former Yugoslavia.
Dervis voiced hopes that would be resolved by the April 12-13 international aid meeting through a refinancing of the outstanding loans.
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