Overview

COUNTRY CONTEXT

TAJIKISTAN

2016

Population, million

8.6 million

GDP, current US$ billion

6.9 billion

GDP per capita, current US$

804

School Enrollment, primary (% gross) (2014)

99.0

Life Expectancy at Birth, years (2014)

69.4

Since independence, Tajikistan has done a remarkable job in reducing poverty. Between 2000 and early 2015, poverty fell from over 83% to about 31%. Tajikistan’s pace of poverty reduction over the past 15 years has been among the top 10% in the world.

However, progress has been slower in reducing non-monetary poverty. Recently available micro-data suggests that limited or no access to education (secondary and tertiary), heating, and sanitation are the main contributors to non-monetary poverty. These three are the most unequally distributed services, with access to education varying by income level and heating and sanitation by location.

The Government of Tajikistan has set ambitious goals to be reached by 2020: to double GDP, to reduce poverty to 20%, and to expand the middle class.

To achieve higher growth, Tajikistan needs to implement a deeper structural reform agenda designed to: (a) reduce the role of the state and enlarge that of the private sector in the economy through a more favorable business climate, thus increasing private investment and generating more productive jobs; (b) modernize and improve the efficiency and social inclusiveness of basic public services; and (c) enhance the country’s connectivity to regional and global markets and knowledge.

The difficult environment for doing business in Tajikistan, as well as obstacles to foreign direct investment, have discouraged private investment and limited overall investment. Averaging about 15% of GDP annually since 2008, total investment is low by regional and international standards.

The main obstacles cited by local and foreign entrepreneurs are inadequate infrastructure, in particular an insufficient and unreliable energy supply; weak rule of law, especially as regards property rights; and an overly burdensome tax policy and administration. Greater private investment and new business development are crucial prerequisites for increased job creation.

Strategy

Number of projects 21
IDA grants and credit US$357 million

The World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2015–18 seeks to help lay the foundation for Tajikistan to transition to a new growth model led by investment and exports and to improve the income-earning opportunities of the poorest 40% of the population. The three main areas of the CPS include:

  • Promote private sector–led growth by improving the investment climate and strengthening competitiveness in key sectors to attract investment and create jobs
  • Promote social inclusion by increasing access to improved social services, including education, health, social assistance, water supply, and sanitation
  • Enhance regional connectivity to increase the country’s access to regional markets and global information and knowledge

Mainstreaming climate change, improving governance, and narrowing the gender gap also continue to be important measures across all sectors of the CPS.

The active portfolio includes 21 projects with a net commitment of US$357 million. The largest share is in the water sector (23%), followed by energy (14%), transport (12%), governance (12%), urban and rural development (9%), education (8%), health (7%), agriculture (6%), environment and natural resources (5%), trade and competitiveness (3%), and social protection (1%).

KEY ENGAGEMENT

The World Bank is one of Tajikistan’s most long-standing and trusted partners, a collaboration and portfolio that have strengthened and expanded significantly over the years. Since 1996, the Bank has provided US$1.11 billion in grants and highly concessional credits from the International Development Association (IDA) and trust funds.

The Bank’s strategy is closely aligned with the Government’s strategic objectives of ensuring energy and food security, expanding productive employment, and promoting regional connectivity as outlined in the new National Development Strategy 2030 and Mid-Term Development Strategy, 2020.

Today, when the country is facing new challenges, both external and internal, World Bank Group investments are critical to helping Tajikistan address social and economic vulnerabilities, preserve stability, and lay the foundations for long-term growth.

In the area of private sector development, for example, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have continued strong efforts to reduce the costs of doing business, strengthen the financial sector, and increase access to finance. With a combination of IFC and Bank support, the time it takes to register a business has been reduced, the use of the tax e-filing system has expanded, and an online permit application system has been established. In addition, the number of loans provided to individuals and small and medium enterprises has reached 308,000.

In agriculture, which employs 64% of the country’s population, land tenure for individual and family farms has increased. More than 120,000 individual and family farms have received use-rights certificates, benefiting more than 321,000 shareholders, of whom 43% were women.

The performance-based financing reform, rolled out in 17 districts with Bank support, resulted in an increase in the number of fully vaccinated children and more pregnant women able to get four or more antenatal care visits.

The Bank’s investments in the education sector helped reduce the shortage of textbooks by over 40% and rehabilitate 2,850 classrooms, benefiting over 110,000 schoolchildren, mainly in rural areas. A new primary grades competency-based curriculum has been developed and introduced nationally to improve education outcomes.

The major projects planned for this fiscal year with World Bank financing are the Nurek Hydro Power Plant Rehabilitation Project and the Zarafshon Irrigation Rehabilitation and River Basin Management Projects. 

Economy

RECENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

Tajikistan’s growth rose from 6.0% in 2015 to 6.9% in 2016, per official estimates. Foreign-financed investment spurred growth in the industrial and construction sectors, which expanded by 16 and 20.3%, respectively. The mining and food processing subsectors drove the increase in industrial output, while expanded activity on the Rogun Hydropower Plant and public investment dedicated to the 25th anniversary of independence spurred the construction sector. Agricultural output grew by 5.2% year-on-year (y-o-y), supported by efficiency gains and favorable weather. Low external trade activity slowed the growth of services, while currency depreciation, coupled with a further drop in real remittances, caused private consumption to contract. However, the robust growth of fixed investment and an improved net export position more than compensated for a decline in private consumption.

Declines in consumption and remittances had especially negative implications for the financial sector, which already suffered from weak corporate governance, risk management, and regulatory oversight.

Official inflation remained broadly stable at 5.9% (annual average). The currency depreciation in early 2016 and rise in utility tariffs in the last quarter of 2016 put pressure on prices, but low imported oil and food prices offset this effect.

The currency depreciation led to a decline in imports and modest export growth, improving the external position despite reduced remittances. The current account deficit narrowed from 6% of GDP in 2015 to an estimated 2.5% in 2016.

The national poverty rate fell from 37.4% in 2012 to 30.3% in the third quarter of 2016. Extreme poverty declined from 18.2% in 2013 to 14% in 2016. Wage income continues to drive poverty trends, but lower remittances in 2014–16 slowed the pace of poverty reduction.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Growth is projected to slow to 5.5% in 2017 due to structural vulnerabilities among SOEs, lingering financial sector distress, and a planned fiscal consolidation. Diminishing fiscal space is expected to slow the pace of public investment.

The gradual economic recovery of Russia and other trading partners is expected to bolster remittances, accelerating poverty reduction and spurring growth in consumption and services. However, overall improvements in macroeconomic management and progress in priority reform areas, such as financial regulation, the business climate, public financial management, and SOE oversight, will be vital to medium-term growth A flexible exchange rate, rebounding remittances, and a moderate increase in the price of key export commodities (cotton and aluminum) are expected to narrow both the fiscal and current account deficits over the medium term. Prudent monetary policy should keep the inflation rate in the mid-single digits.

The poverty rate is expected to continue to fall at a steady pace, but this hinges on a continued increase in remittances.

Strong domestic economic growth and an incipient recovery in Russia, supported by more accommodative migration regulations, will boost income growth among vulnerable households. The new Law on Social Assistance and the nationwide expansion of the Targeted Social Assistance program are expected to further reduce extreme poverty. The national poverty rate is projected to fall from 29.3% in 2016 to 26.1% by 2018.

ALL PROJECTS

Highlighted Project

Improving the learning environment for better education outcomes 

Through a US$16.20 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the World Bank is supporting improved learning conditions in preschool and general education in Tajikistan.

This is the fourth grant from GPE to Tajikistan, and it builds on the successes of previous projects, which supported (i) the implementation of per capita financing in general education; (ii) improvements in the physical learning environment for 37,000 students and the alleviation of furniture shortages for around 100,000 students; (iii) the publication of 1.7 million textbooks in key subjects in the local language; (iv) the establishment of an Education Management Information System (EMIS) for better data collection and management and thus informed decision making; and (v) improved management and fiduciary capacities of the Ministry of Education and Sciences of Tajikistan. 

Since 2013, the GPE-4 grant has been working to increase access to affordable and quality early childhood education and to improve learning outcomes for general education students. As a result of the project, over 18,000 children have benefited from improved learning conditions in Early Learning Centers and kindergartens, including through the training and mentoring of 1,100 preschool teachers and the provision of essential teaching-learning materials. In general education, over 10,000 schoolchildren are studying in better classrooms, thanks to the construction and rehabilitation of 40 schools, including improved access for handicapped children.

The project supported the national introduction of a new competency-based curriculum in the primary grades, provided new teaching and learning materials to all schools in the country at the primary grade level, and delivered training for 5,400 primary teachers on the new curriculum. All preschool directors (almost 500 persons) and half of the general school directors (almost 2,000 persons) were trained on school management and the per capita financing reform implementation. 

Each component of the project aims to develop child-friendly schools to ensure that the children of Tajikistan, especially the most marginalized, including girls, ethnic minorities, rural children, and children with disabilities, are afforded the opportunity to achieve their education goals for future development and success. The project is being implemented in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Agha Khan Foundation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tajikistan.


LENDING

Tajikistan: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

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