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The World Bank and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), in partnership with several development institutions as well as with the Government of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, are organizing a 5-day intensive training on Municipal Finance and Creditworthiness from May 24-28, 2015 in Amman, Jordan.
The training aims to support 20 municipalities from Jordan and 15 municipalities from West Bank and Gaza to improve their financial management performance. This will facilitate their access to financing needed to build sustainable and resilient infrastructure in a context of rapid urbanization and fast growing cities.
The Amman Academy will be held in partnership between: the World Bank Group; the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) under the umbrella of its City Creditworthiness Initiative to support 300 cities on the path to creditworthiness; the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) as part of its work on the MENA Urbanization Knowledge Platform (MENA UKP); the Korea Green Growth Partnership; UN-Habitat and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Healthy municipal finances are a critical component of well managed cities. In many cities in MENA, as elsewhere in the world, local governments are expected to deliver quality basic services and infrastructure while generally facing poor revenue generation due to poor collection mechanisms, or poor tax base assessments, or inadequate fiscal frameworks. Property tax levels, for instance, are particularly low in the region. Also, cities financial capacities depend on the level of central budget transfer, hence there is a need for a strong commitment of the national government to support a city development strategy process on a long term perspective. Further, no local government in MENA has borrowed on the commercial market. At best, cities borrow from State-owned municipal funds that are often remote from being true credit institutions.
The City Creditworthiness Academy scheduled for May 24-28 in Amman is the first held exclusively for the Middle East Region and will be the eighth across the world.
The Academies are an intensive one-week capacity building workshop presented from a practitioner’s perspective. Chief financial officers, Treasurers, Revenue Directors, and Planners attend the Academies to master the underlying principles of creditworthiness. The 5-day Academy deals with the full range of factors affecting cities financial management performance. These include issues determined by the enabling environment and options for financing such as: revenue management and enhancement; expenditure control and asset maintenance; capital investment planning; debt management; the use of special purpose vehicles to “ring fence” specific revenues; and scoping out options for financing.
Using a preliminary self-assessment tool during the Academy, participants produce a diagnostic report and develop a customized draft action plan of specific institutional reforms, capacity building, and other actions that will improve their creditworthiness and facilitate their ability to plan, finance and deliver infrastructure services.
The Academy’s curriculum is adjusted to the context (legal/regulatory framework, enabling environment) of each Country/Region it is offered to. The Amman Academy is targeting about 40 municipalities from Jordan and West Bank and Gaza. If successful, the Academy could then be replicated in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
Invited city officials are engaged prior to the Academy to submit a draft of the self-assessment tool that will be completed during the Academy. This ensures that prospective participants understand the focus of the Academy, familiarize with the diagnostic tool that will be used throughout the Academy, and provide essential information for the design of the Academy itself.
The Academy is the first engagement with local government officials under the broader City Creditworthiness Initiative. The Initiative is committed to supporting cities after each Academy by delivering technical assistance to sub-national authorities in developing countries with the objective of successfully structuring and closing market-based financing transactions for climate-smart infrastructure projects, using local currency markets if at all possible.
Building on the diagnostic reports and draft action plans completed during the Academy, the Initiative designs carefully tailored short-, medium-, and long-term technical assistance and training activities to help cities substantially narrow or eliminate their creditworthiness gap.