World Bank Vice President Visits Kazakhstan, Highlights Successful Cooperation
This year marks the 20th anniversary of cooperation between the World Bank and the Republic of Kazakhstan. During his visit to Kazakhstan, Mr. Philippe Le Houérou, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia commended country’s strong economic performance and emphasized the successful partnership over the past two decades.
“Kazakhstan has made impressive policy strides - absorbed large resource-based earnings responsibly, strengthened public financial management and the business climate, and allocated resources for improved social services and critical infrastructure to sustain growth. As a long standing partner, we were privileged to both support and witness this process,” said Mr. Le Houérou at the meeting with Prime Minister Karim Massimov.
Kazakhstan’s GDP per capita increased from US$ 1,515 in 1992 to US$ 11,245 in 2011, lifting the country’s status from lower to upper-middle income country. Strong growth at an average rate of 8.3 percent translated into a significant decrease in poverty rates from 46.7 percent in 2001 to 6.5 percent in 2010.
The World Bank’s assistance in the first years after Kazakhstan’s independence was focused on financial and private sector reforms. The program in 2000-s included more institutional projects and continued with environment remediation and infrastructure development. The new World Bank Country Partnership Strategy for 2012-2017 retains a strong emphasis on knowledge products to support Kazakhstan’s key development priorities - diversification, institutional development, investment in human capital, and building infrastructure connectivity. In total, since 1992, the Bank has provided 40 loans to the country for the total amount of more than US$ 6.7 billion.
Kazakhstan has been a pioneer in drawing on the Bank’s pool of knowledge through reimbursable analytical work under the Joint Economic Research Program (JERP), which serves as an example to other countries now. In 10 years since its launch, JERP grew several-fold, providing analytical and advisory services to inform the country’s development agenda.
High-level brainstorming sessions, a key component of the JERP, provide input to the Government’s ambitious reform agenda through the use of Bank's technical expertise and international experience.
On May 19, 2012, Mr. Le Houérou together with Prime Minister Karim Massimov co-chaired a full-day brainstorming session focused on social sector agenda. The World Bank specialists and external knowledge leaders discussed lessons from international best practices with the government counterparts to identify technical options for consideration in the ongoing sector reforms.
As an upper-middle income country, Kazakhstan is gaining a more prominent place on the international arena. Last year, Kazakhstan brought its development assistance function to the next level by becoming an International Development Assistance (IDA) donor to assist low-income countries globally.
At the reception on the occasion of the 20-year partnership Mr. Le Houérou emphasized, “We expect Kazakhstan to play a bigger role as a provider of experience and assistance in the region over the coming period. Kazakhstan has a large potential to help stabilize energy and water in the region and to enhance the integration of Central Asia to the world markets through transit corridors and modern customs services.”
The World Bank will also continue close cooperation with other development partners to ensure Kazakhstan gets the best out of the combination of competitive financing, cutting edge knowledge, and global experience.