FEATURE STORY September 15, 2017

World Bank in Georgia: 25 Years of Partnership

The World Bank Regional Office in Tbilisi has 36 staff members at present. Representing diverse nationalities, professional experiences, and fields of expertise, they have been the driving force over the years behind important results achieved in the country.

World Bank Group


Georgia became a member of the World Bank on August 7, 1992. Since that time, the World Bank has provided concessional credits and loans to finance 69 projects, totaling over US$ 2.7 billion, across different sectors of Georgia's economy. The current portfolio consists of 12 active investment projects and development policy operations totaling US$ 789 million.

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Georgia - IDA membership signing ceremony. Washington, DC (August 1993)

World Bank

Over the past 25 years, the World Bank's partnership with Georgia has evolved along with changing local and global contexts. In the early 1990s, following Georgia’s turbulent independence from the Soviet Union, the partnership was launched with a $10 million Institution Building Project, designed to expand the government’s capacity to transition Georgia to a market economy.

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1994-2000 | Early 2000s | 2001-2008 | 2008-2010 | 2010-2014 | 2014-present

1994-2000

During the mid-1990s, the World Bank supported the government’s "first generation reforms" to remove the remaining market distortions and controls inherited from the central planning system. It also helped establish and maintain macroeconomic stability, foster growth, and improve financial discipline in the private and public sectors.

Over the following years, the World Bank concentrated its support on financing projects in areas such as municipal infrastructure, agriculture, judiciaryprotected areas and cultural heritage.

  • April 1997 – The World Bank office opened in Tbilisi.
  • September 22, 1997 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the World Bank's First Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Fiscal Years 1998-2000.

A Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) details the Bank’s strategy and work-plan to assist client countries achieve their development goals. It describes all of the Bank’s planned operations in the country - lending, analytical work, and technical assistance. 

Early 2000s

From 2004, the focus of the World Bank's program was supporting the government in critical reform areas such as public sector management and social safety nets. The Bank also supported new investments in transport and energy infrastructure with the aim of enabling private sector growth and strengthening Georgia’s role as a transit corridor.

The Bank continued financing the Roads Sector in Georgia, in particular the essential rehabilitation of the East-West Highway and selected secondary and local roads, thereby generating short-term employment in the regions, as well as building connectivity and strengthening the country’s competitiveness.

2001 -2008

The World Bank fostered the development of Georgia’s human capital through investments in education, supporting curriculum reform and school financing, introducing a new transparent university examination system, and rebuilding schools in priority regions.

The Bank also helped to establish the International School of Economics of Tbilisi. Interventions in the health sector helped modernize health care facilities, and above all, ensured that the poor have access to affordable health insurance. The Bank also helped the Government achieve a major breakthrough – the introduction of a Targeted Social Assistance program.

  • January 2001 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved new World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Georgia for the period 2004-2006.
  • May 2001 - The World Bank approved a Protected Areas Development Project in Georgia funded by a Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund Grant.
  • August 2002 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved IDA Loan of US$ 16 million for the Forests Development Project.

The international community committed to supporting reforms proposed by the new government of Georgia and responded favorably to its request for assistance for the most urgent and highest priority areas for the years 2004-2006.

  • June 2004 – Donors' Conference on Georgia co-hosted by the European Commission and the World Bank in Brussels to support reforms for the most urgent and highest priority areas for the years 2004-2006.
  • September 2005 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a new World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Georgia for the period 2006-2009.
  • September 2005 – The First East-West Highway Improvement Project approved by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
  • April 2006 – The Bank together with other donors helped to establish the International School of Economics of Tbilisi (ISET) at Tbilisi State University.
  • September 2006 – Doing Business: Georgia led the global top 10 reformer rankings in ease of doing business in 2005–2006, according to the World Bank and IFC.

2008 -2010

In the aftermath of the 2008 conflict, the World Bank led the Joint Needs Assessment to identify the immediate needs of Georgians. Along with the European Commission, the Bank organized the Donor Conference in Brussels, and tripled the amount of its lending in 2010-2011, in order to respond to the country’s urgent recovery needs.

Working closely with the Government and using rapid response procedures, housing for new internally displaced persons was completed by early December 2008, allowing many of these people to move out of temporary facilities before the onset of winter.

  • September 2008 - A Joint Needs Assessment was undertaken to identify immediate emergency needs, following the 2008 armed conflict.
  • October 2008 - The International Donor Conference took place, with US$ 4.5 billion pledged for post-conflict support to Georgia.

2010-2014 

The World Bank started to support the Government’s Regional Development Initiatives though projects in Kakheti and Imereti regions that focus on public investments to support the growth of tourism.

The Bank continued to provide budget support to Georgia, backing critical reforms to strengthen the foundations for medium-term competitiveness and growth while promoting social inclusion.

  • January 2011 – “Fighting Corruption in Public Services: Chronicling Georgia’s Reforms ” book launched at World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
  • March 2012 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$60 million loan for the First Regional Development Project in the Kakheti region.
  • May 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for FY 2014-2017.
  • June 2014 – Georgia graduates from the International Development Association (IDA).

2014-present

Most of the commitments were concentrated on the on-going East-West Highway and secondary roads projects, followed by urban development, energy and irrigation sectors. The investment portfolio also included the Georgia National Innovation Ecosystem Project aimed at increasing innovative activities of firms and individuals and their participation in the digital economy.

The two Development Policy Operation (DPO) series, providing budget support have been under implementation in parallel – Programmatic Inclusive Growth DPO and Private Sector Competitiveness DPO.

  • March 2015 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved an IBRD loan of US$ 40 million for the Georgia National Innovation Ecosystem (GENIE) Project.
  • November 2015 – The Tbilisi Disaster Needs Assessment was made following destructive flash floods in June 2015.
  • December 2015 – The First Georgia National Tourism Strategy 2025 was launched with technical and financial support from the World Bank Group.
  • April 2016 – Tbilisi Business Forum: Innovation and Digital Economy. World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends launched at the Tbilisi Technology Park.
  • November 2016 – First Systematic Country Diagnostic was launched.
  • May 2017 – "Trade in Transition", the latest Economic Update for Europe and Central Asia was launched in Tbilisi.
  • September 2017 – The World Bank Group and Georgia mark 25 years of partnership.

Although the Bank’s investment portfolio has been predominantly in infrastructure, the overall partnership has been broader with in-depth dialogue and analytical and knowledge activities in many areas, particularly as a form of complementary engagement with the two DPOs.

The Bank continues to support the health and education sectors in Georgia through technical assistance and DPOs. The new Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD) for Georgia was launched early in 2017, in close consultation with the authorities and other stakeholders, in order to identify the most critical constraints and opportunities facing the country. The SCD is expected to be delivered early in Fiscal Year 2018 and will inform the Country Partnership Framework for Fiscal Years 2018-2022. 


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