Overview

COUNTRY CONTEXT

Tajikistan 2015
Population, million 8.5
GDP, current US$ billion 7.8
GDP per capita, current US$ 928
Poverty rate (LCU 167.76/month) 31.3
Life Expectancy at Birth, years 69.2

Despite a challenging external environment, Tajikistan’s economy recovered after a slowdown of 6 percent in 2015, to an estimated 6.9 percent in 2016. The sources of growth shifted from services to industry and construction with modest contributions by agriculture. The U.S. dollar value of remittances, about 80 percent of which originate from Russia, fell by 33 percent in 2015 and continued to recede by around 21 percent through mid-2016.

Along with sharp depreciation of ruble, tightening legislation on migration in the Russian Federation since January 2015 has also contributed to the decline of remittances. The slowdown in remittances affected domestic demand, which in turn depressed growth in services, the major contributor to economic growth up until recently.

Despite projected improvements in the external environment, which include a gradual recovery in Russia that should support a moderate increase in remittances, economic growth is projected to slow in 2017 as domestic vulnerabilities increase. A gradual recovery is expected over the medium term, reflecting enhanced macroeconomic management and the implementation of structural reforms designed to encourage private investment and exports. Poverty reduction is expected to continue over the medium term, though at a slower pace than in recent years.

As this trend in the economy is likely to persist in the medium term, it is even more important that Tajikistan implements sound macroeconomic policies and structural reforms that are necessary to create the foundation for more domestically generated inclusive growth, while investing in quality public services. The current situation should be seen as an opportunity to reform the economy and to adopt new engines of growth - private investment and export - to generate more and better-paying jobs in the country.

To date, Tajikistan has done a remarkable job in reducing poverty. During the period 1999 and early 2014, poverty fell from over 80 percent to about 31.3 percent. Tajikistan’s pace of poverty reduction over the past 15 years has been among the top 10 percent in the world.

However, the country has done less well 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 according to location.

The Government of Tajikistan has set ambitious goals to be reached by 2020: to double GDP, to reduce poverty to 20 percent, and to expand the middle class. It has also recently adopted a new National Development Strategy covering 2016-2030, which envisages that Tajikistan will transform from a mainly agrarian based economy to an industrialized economy. To achieve these goals, 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 conducive 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 percent of GDP annually since 2008, total investment is low by regional and international standards.

Public investment accounts for 80 percent of the total, or 12 percent of GDP, and private investment for 20 percent, or only 3 percent of GDP - much lower than the Europe and Central Asia developing country average. The main obstacles cited both by local and foreign entrepreneurs are inadequate infrastructure, in particular insufficient and unreliable energy supply, weak rule of law, especially as regards to property rights, and tax policy and administration. Increased private investment and new business development are crucial prerequisites to propel job creation. 

With 25 percent of GDP and almost 70 percent of employment, the agriculture sector in Tajikistan offers a solid foundation for economic development. The Government of Tajikistan displays a strong commitment to the agricultural reform program, which includes accelerated land reform, freedom to farm, improved access to rural finance and increased diversification of agriculture.

Efforts are underway to make investment in agriculture more profitable, especially for exports, by enhancing access to markets and by empowering farmers through strengthening their land-use rights, improving their access to credit and inputs, and enabling them to make their own cropping decisions. The recent growth of non-cotton agricultural exports indicates the potential for growth in agro-processing, including storage of fruit and vegetables, which holds great promise for development, along with textiles and clothing.

Meeting Tajikistan’s energy demand will be an important part of the agenda to reduce poverty and create an enabling environment for private businesses. Approximately 70 percent of the population suffers from extensive electricity shortages during winter. The shortages increased considerably starting in 2009, when Tajikistan’s power network was severed from the Central Asia Power System and power trade with regional countries stopped. Electricity shortages in winter are estimated to be at least 2,000 gigawatt-hours, or about 20 percent of winter electricity demand.

Tajikistan is also faced with a young and rapidly growing population. Recent estimates show that 55 percent of the population in Tajikistan is under the age of 25, making improved public services in social sectors (education, health, and social protection), as well as job creation, imperative components of the Government’s National Development Strategy.

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2017

Strategy

Number of projects 23
IDA grants and credit $236.1 million

Tajikistan joined the World Bank in 1993 and the International Development Association (IDA) in 1994. Since 1996, the Bank has provided approximately US$1.11 billion in IDA credits, grants, and Trust Funds, of which some US$890 million have already been disbursed.

The current World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Tajikistan for 2015-2018 supports the transition to a new growth model led by private sector investment and exports, and is aimed at improving the income-earning opportunities of the poorest 40 percent of the population. The three main pillars 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 to global information and knowledge. 

Mainstreaming climate change, governance and narrowing the gender gap will remain important measures across all sectors of the CPS.

The World Bank’s active portfolio in Tajikistan includes 23 projects (including regional projects and Trust Funds) with a net commitment of US$ 369.3 million.  The largest share of the portfolio is in water sector (23 percent), followed by energy (14 percent), transport (12 percent), governance (12 percent), urban, and rural development (9 percent), education (8 percent), health (7 percent), agriculture (6 percent), environment and natural resources (5 percent), trade and competitiveness (3 percent), and social protection and labor (1 percent).

Trust fund activities complement the Bank assistance program and finance a wide range of projects in key strategic sectors, including education, energy, agriculture, food security, and the social sectors. As of July 2016 Tajikistan is in the “yellow” category moving from being eligible for 100% credit to a mix of grants and credit from the International Development Association (IDA). The current concessional IDA lending terms for credit for Tajikistan includes no interest, repayment over 38 years and grace period of 6 years. There is service charge of 0.75 percent.

Tajikistan became a member of IFC in 1994. IFC works with private sector clients, government, and civil society to bring the benefit of global expertise to Tajikistan through its advisory services and selected investment projects. IFC, with its focus on private sector development, has an important role to play in supporting inclusive growth and job creation in Tajikistan. Since 1997, IFC has invested US$152 million, including $11.5 million mobilized from partners, to support 40 private sector projects in the financial sector, hydro power, retail, tourism and manufacturing sectors.

Tajikistan became a member of MIGA in 2002. MIGA has not so far provided any political risk guarantees for investment projects in Tajikistan.

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2017

Economy

RECENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS

Despite regional headwinds, Tajikistan’s economy grew by a robust 6.6%, y-o-y, during the first half of 2016, supported by a substantial increase in public investment. However, a sharp increase in foreign-financed investment, coupled with a slowdown in tax revenues that failed to meet projections, turned a fiscal surplus of 1.5% of GDP in the first half of 2015 into a deficit of 5.5% of GDP in the first half of 2016.

An ongoing decline in remittances, which are the major source of foreign exchange, coupled with the legacy of directed lending, poor risk management among banks, and deficiencies in the central bank’s supervisory and regulatory framework, have exacerbated financial sector vulnerabilities.

Official survey data indicate that wage income rose by 4.7% per capita among poor households in 2015 compared to just 0.4% for the population as a whole. Both the national poverty and the extreme poverty rates declined during 2015, but the pace of poverty reduction slowed.

The annualized inflation rate increased to 5.5% during the first half of 2016, reflecting the pass-through effect of the depreciation early in the year. To ease inflationary pressures, the central bank tightened its monetary policy stance by increasing the refinancing rate and raising the liquidity support rate above the interbank rate.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

The GDP growth rate is projected to remain broadly stable at 6% in 2016, supported by the ongoing expansion of industry, construction, and agriculture.  A fiscal adjustment in the second half of 2016 is expected to improve the Government’s budgetary position, though the overall budget deficit (including the externally financed public investment program) is expected to reach 4% of GDP.

Slowing growth and persistent weaknesses in the banking sector will have a negative impact on poverty and shared prosperity, though this will be partially offset by the effects of a higher minimum wage.

Poverty reduction is expected to continue, though at a slower pace, and the official poverty rate is expected to fall from 31.3% in 2015 to 27.3% by 2018.

Despite projected improvements in the external environment, which include an incipient recovery in Russia that should support a moderate increase in remittances, economic growth is projected to slow in 2017 as domestic vulnerabilities increase. The ongoing fiscal adjustment, though necessary to ensure medium-term fiscal and debt sustainability, will also contribute to lower growth rates.

Last Updated: Oct 07, 2016

Project Spotlight

Environmental Sustainability

Tajikistan ranks first among countries in the region vulnerable to climate change, as it is particularly sensitive to climate trends and has low adaptive capacity. Impacts from extremes in weather and climate are expected to worsen, putting development gains at risk.

A US$50 million investment program under the multi-donor Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR), the program of the Climate Investment Funds, focuses on broad adaptation issues. The projects implemented under the PPCR are country-led, built on national strategies, and aligned with other donor-funded activities. In Tajikistan, the participating multilateral development banks include the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). An additional US$10 million was granted to Tajikistan by the donor parties in 2013 to further support Tajikistan’s strategic program for climate resilience.

A government coordination mechanism was established in August 2011 to promote inter-ministerial cooperation, enhance engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs), and facilitate implementation of climate change adaptation initiatives. The latest project under this initiative, the Environmental Land Management and Rural Livelihoods Project, is funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the PPCR and supports the widespread adoption of sustainable land and water management strategies and practices. To date, the project has supported approximately 7,500 households (or about 48,750 people, approximately 49% of whom are women) in developing and adopting rural production and sustainable land management practices that improve livelihoods and food security and restore productive natural resources.  Tajikistan is also part of the new World Bank–financed Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Program for the Aral Sea Basin, which began in 2016 to provide a regional platform for dialogue and collaboration on climate change activities as well as increased investments and capacity building to address climate challenges common to these countries. Tajikistan has received US$9 million under the program. 


LENDING

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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments