World Bank to lend Bosnia $100 mln to cope with flood damage

SARAJEVO, July 1 Tue Jul 1, 2014 7:24am EDT

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SARAJEVO, July 1 (Reuters) - The World Bank has approved a $100 million loan to Bosnia to help the Balkan country cope with the impact of the worst floods in over a century, the bank said on Tuesday.

The heaviest rainfall since records began 120 years ago caused rivers to burst their banks in May, triggering hundreds of landslides and claiming more than 65 lives in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.

A preliminary estimate in Bosnia and Serbia put damage at 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion) each, a huge blow to their cash-strapped economies.

The bank said the loan was designed to help Bosnia meet critical needs and restore infrastructure essential for public services and economic recovery. It will target housing, transport, agriculture and energy.

The bank said it was working on several other projects to develop a comprehensive package of support for Bosnia and was also taking part in assessing recovery needs.

The assessment will provide a basis for ensuring infrastructure and services are fully restored, it said.

The bank said it was considering reshuffling the existing projects in its portfolio for Bosnia to make sure the reconstruction needs can be met. The portfolio includes 14 projects worth some $578.6 million.

"While immediate recovery needs are the top priority of this project, the World Bank also stands ready to work with the authorities to scale up flood protection and implement early warning systems," it said.

The International Monetary Fund's board disbursed some 191 million euros ($260 million) to Bosnia on Monday, doubling a loan tranche, to help tackle flood damage. ($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Ruth Pitchford)

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