WASHINGTON (AFP) - The World Bank on Thursday approved nearly US$1.5 billion (S$1.9 billion) in financing for three projects in Ukraine to help the embattled country undertake critical reforms and build infrastructure.
The new projects are funded as part of a US$27 billion aid package promised by the international community to Ukraine as it struggles with deep economic and political crises.
The World Bank announced in March that it aims to provide Ukraine as much as US$3.5 billion by year-end. Its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, is planning US$17 billion dollars in aid over the next two years.
"We are stepping up our assistance to Ukraine because we want to help improve the lives of people in the country and to achieve economic recovery at a crucial time," the president of the World Bank, Mr Jim Yong Kim, said in a statement.
"The Ukrainian authorities have developed a comprehensive program of reforms, which they are committed to undertake with support from the World Bank." In the face of pro-Russian separatist movements in the eastern part of the country, Ukraine's economy is expected to shrink 5.0 per cent in 2014, according to the IMF.
Roughly half of the World Bank's new financing announced Thursday - US$750 million - is to support "high-priority" reform measures, including efforts to fight corruption in the public sector and the reform of "inefficient and inequitable utility subsidies" while protecting the poor, the Bank said.
The Washington-based institution also will provide US$382 million to support improvements in heating energy efficiency and US$350 million to fund upgrades of water and solid waste services.
The new investments brings the World Bank's current lending portfolio to Ukraine to US$3.39 billion.