THE World Bank is providing a US$10- million loan to Antigua and Barbuda to finance the public and social sector reform activities for the next five years.
Finance Minister Harold Lovell and World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Sophie Sirtaine signed the loan agreement.
In 2012, the World Bank granted a Project Preparation Advance of US$980,000 to start the groundwork for the Public and Social Sector Transformation (PSST) project and earlier this year it approved the loan for the five-year project.
A government statement said that the Baldwin Spencer administration "can now intensify implementation of the PSST Project having formally executed the loan agreement with the World Bank".
It said the project supports the National Economic and Social Transformation (NEST) Plan, the country's 2010-2014 strategic response to the global economic and financial crisis and the 2010- 2013 Public Sector Transformation Strategy.
"Antigua and Barbuda demonstrated its commitment to improve macro-economic management with the development of the NEST Plan and, in particular, by implementing its fiscal consolidation programme with financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and other development partners," the statement said.
It said the island's successful implementation of its fiscal consolidation programme and the government's adoption of public financial management reforms cleared the way for the World Bank to provide much needed assistance for public and social sector initiatives.
Under the loan agreement, just over four million US dollars is designated to support the introduction of Active Labour Market Programmes to increase employment opportunities, skills and earnings of citizens between the ages of 17 to 50 years.
Under this project component, the One Stop Employment Centre (OSEC) will be fully operationalised to offer employment services to job seekers.
Funds will also be allocated to strengthen public institutions for the strategic management of government policies as well as to "fundamentally modernise human resource management to improve capacity, systems, legislation and policies for the management of an integrated public service".
The US$10-million loan is to be repaid over 30 years with a five-year moratorium on principal payments.