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More regional support

Filipe Naigulevu
Saturday, May 20, 2017

THE World Bank, which is setting up a regional establishment in Suva, aims to strengthen its partnership with the Fijian Government and nine other Pacific Island countries.

And here to spearhead and manage this including the World Bank's regional portfolio is Lasse Melgaard, the bank's new resident representative for the South Pacific.

Mr Melgaard, a national of Denmark, brings two decades of development experience to Fiji having worked on programs in China, Mongolia, Korea and Vietnam.

In an interview with this newspaper earlier this week, Mr Melgaard said the scope of his work was mainly to consolidate and strengthen the partnerships with Fiji and the region through providing support in a number of areas.

"My role is basically to manage the World Bank's South Pacific portfolio and I report to my director who is based in Sydney who overlooks the entire Pacific," he said.

"Really, my responsibility as a head of representative is to make sure that we are responding to governments' needs and make sure that our projects are functioning well and to talk to the respective countries about planning our portfolio.

"We typically talk to the Ministers of Finance just because of the way the World Bank is structured the actual representative of a country on the World Bank board of governance is typically the Minister of Finance."

Prior to being appointed to the position, Mr Melgaard's most recent assignment was to co-ordinate the World Bank's work in the South Pacific from the World Bank's office in Sydney, Australia.

"I'm here with my wife and I am here with my two boys and they have just started at International School Suva. We have moved to a house in Lami and we love Lami," he said.

Mr Melgaard, who is here on a three-year contract, will oversee the World Bank's current and planned projects in Fiji, as well as Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu, with total commitments of $US660 million ($F1.4 billion) across the six countries.

This number is also expected to rise significantly in the coming years.

The World Bank has also anticipated its presence across the South Pacific to grow significantly in the coming years under Mr Melgaard's tenure.

This, the bank said, would also include tripling of the amount of investments, through grants and concessional loans.

Mr Melgaard's arrival coincides with work getting underway on a new "hub" for the South Pacific which is located at Suva's MyFNPF Center.

The World Bank's support to Fiji includes projects in transport and roads, information and communication technology, renewable energy, disaster recovery and response, together with advisory services.

About Mr Melgaard:

In his time with the World Bank, Mr Melgaard has led strategy development, lending operations and analytical work across a broad range of areas.

He most recently led the year-long consultation process which led to the five-year, nine-country Pacific Islands Regional Country Partnership Framework, the key guiding document for the World Bank's program in nine Pacific countries: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (FSM), Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Prior to joining the World Bank, Mr Melgaard worked for the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the Danish Red Cross, and the Danish International Development Agency in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.

He holds a Master's Degree in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

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