World Bank, NATO Outline Critical Need
For Funds to Put Bosnia on its Feet
(March 20Reuters) World Bank President James Wolfensohn said that more than $5 billion would be needed to reconstruct war-devastated Bosnia. "Ninety percent of power stations and electricity cables have been destroyed. One-third of schools and hospitals are ruins," Wolfensohn told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit in an interview released ahead of Thursday's publication. "There is no functioning authority in the cities and villages. And at the same time we are supposed to bring about the transition to a market economy," he was quoted as saying.
Wolfensohn said the World Bank would buy building materials and send them to Bosnia so that its people could repair damaged buildings and construct new homes. The World Bank said last week it expects to lend Bosnia $450 million over the next four years after approving a plan to allow it to join the bank despite debts owed by the former Yugoslavia. Wolfensohn said he hoped that other donors would volunteer to make up the shortfall of funds needed after the bank made this initial commitment. Under the plan, Bosnia will assume its share of the Yugoslav debt and the arrears will be consolidated into a new 30-year loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
Budget $500 Million Short says Special Envoy
Bosnia's reconstruction budget is $500 million short and this threatens the peace process, an adviser to special envoy Carl Bildt said on Wednesday. Pauline Neville-Jones said the international community should do more. She urged Islamic countries to contribute to the budget and the United States to increase its aid. "The money problem is a threat. There is a funding gap which is real... and it is round about $500 million," she told a London press conference. "The Islamic countries could help a great deal in all this," she said, stressing the urgency for new funds to rebuild Bosnia and restart its shattered economy. "I have to say the European Union has done and is doing its stuff. I wish we could have more from the United States."
First year needs for Bosnian reconstruction are estimated to total $1.8 billion. Only two thirds of the aid pledged so far has come through and a donors' conference in Brussels in April is aimed at pursuing the laggards and persuading the international community to come up with extra funds.
Bildt is in charge of the civilian aspects of the Dayton peace plan aimed at ending four years of bloody conflict in former Yugoslavia. He has asked NATO for help in organizing and providing security for elections which are now unlikely to happen before late summer at the earliest. NATO's military planners say this means original plans to start bringing out the 60,000-strong NATO force in June would have to be shelved and increase the possibility of the departure date having to slip.
Recipe for Peace in Bosnia
Neville-Jones said there were two essential ingredients needed to ensure fair and free electionsfreedom of movement and access to the media. British Overseas Aid Minister Lynda Chalker, announcing a British aid package of 17 million pounds ($26 million) to rebuild Bosnia's shattered infrastructure, was positive about the peace process. "This is sufficiently far advanced following Dayton that it will not become unravelled," she told the same press conference. She said she would echo Neville-Jones's call for more funds when visiting the United States and Canada next weekend.
British aid is to be used to rebuild essential services like water and gas, help with the return of refugees and support the forthcoming planned elections. "We must show that peace pays. There must be some positive benefit, something visible and tangible to prove that life can be better," she said. "Holding the elctions is also a vital way to illustrate to the people that life is getting back to normal," she added,
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