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PRESS RELEASE

World Bank Group Launches New Partnership Strategy for Tajikistan

June 10, 2014

Expanding opportunities for private sector, investing in social and public services, and linking Tajikistan to regional and global markets and knowledge

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today discussed a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Tajikistan that will guide the support of the World Bank and IFC (International Finance Corporation) to the country in 2015-2018. The strategy sets out priority goals for cooperation between the World Bank Group and the Government of Tajikistan, and describes the Group’s planned program in the country aimed at imrpoving the well-being of the people in Tajikistan.  

The CPS supports the World Bank Group’s overall goal of reducing extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity by prioritizing three main areas:

1)     Promote private sector led growth by improving the investment climate and strengthening competitiveness in key sectors to attract investment and create jobs;

2)     Promote social inclusion by increasing access to improved social services, including education, health, social assistance, water supply and sanitation;

3)     Enhance regional connectivity to increase the country’s access to regional markets and to global information and knowledge. 

“While Tajikistan achieved positive economic growth in the past decade, accompanied by impressive poverty reduction trends, a new level of commitment to deeper structural reforms is now needed to maintain growth at levels that can produce jobs in Tajikistan,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We are looking forward to our continued collaboration with Tajikistan to support a new model of growth through higher private sector investments, supported by better public services for the population and better integration for Tajikistan into global markets and knowledge. 

The new strategy was prepared in close collaboration with the Government and involved extensive consultations with representatives of civil society, youth, the private sector and donor community.  It is aligned with the national Living Standards Improvement Strategy for 2013-2015, which sharpens the focus on poverty reduction and expansion of the middle class, and the growth and poverty targets for 2020 set by the Government. 

“The strategic direction of the new four-year program is to boost the incomes and welfare of the poorest 40 percent of the population,” said Marsha McGraw Olive, World Bank Country Manager in Tajikistan. “To address extreme poverty, we will support the Government’s plan to scale up the successful pilot of targeted social benefits so that the poorest segment of the population can receive assistance, across the country.  At the same time, a Communal Services Development Fund will combine the resources of development partners to increase investments in clean drinking water and sanitation, which will also bring significant health benefits and improve productivity.”

Improving governance across sectors will remain an important area for the new strategy. More efforts will focus on reducing corruption to improve the business environment, including by increasing use of electronic services to comply with business regulations, particularly tax reporting. The World Bank Group is also committed to increasing the engagement of civil society organizations in projects to enhance feedback mechanisms and accountability for service delivery. 

Narrowing the gender gap in human capital endowments and economic opportunities is critical for achieving inclusive growth. Thus, the new CPS stresses measures to improve women’s access to land rights and finance, building their capacity and skills, and ensuring equal access to high quality social services. 

“Medium and small enterprises are the most important source of new employment,” said Christopher Miller, IFC Tajikistan Country Officer. “Under the new CPS, IFC will address the barriers that limit these firms from investing and growing including investor protection, tax administration, and access to finance, electricity, and land. We look forward to continuing to invest directly into Tajik firms and banks as well to help turn small businesses into medium and large businesses, and to link small farmers into competitive, commercial value chains. Agriculture, which will have a large impact on poverty alleviation in rural areas, will be focus of joint efforts of the Group.”


About the World Bank Group in Tajikistan:

Tajikistan joined the World Bank in 1993 and the International Development Association (IDA) in 1994. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided US$ 955 million in IDA credits, grants, and trust funds to improve people’s lives in Tajikistan. Around 34% of these funds have been committed for agriculture and the rural development sector. Other major sectors are economic policy and public sector – 17%, energy – 15%, water and urban development – 15%, education – 10% and health and social protection – 9%. The active World Bank portfolio in Tajikistan consists of 12 projects with net commitments of US$ 199 million. Tajikistan’s trust fund portfolio - one of the largest in Europe and Central Asia - is a critical complement to IDA resources, accounting for about 30% of the total portfolio.  

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. Since 1997, IFC invested US$109 million to support 39 private sector projects in the financial, hydropower, retail, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. IFC’s program includes annual advisory services of approximately US$3 million in: improving the investment climate, promoting corporate governance, reforming tax administration, supporting the development of credit bureaus, supporting the microfinance transformation processes and improving the business environment for agribusiness.  As of March 1, 2014, IFC’s committed investment portfolio in Tajikistan stands at US$31.6 million.

As an institution of global expertise in development, the World Bank Group invests heavily in research to understand country development experience and shares this cross-country knowledge through analytical and advisory services. Since 2000, over 40 publications have been produced on economic and sector issues in Tajikistan.

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PRESS RELEASE NO:
2014/ECA/565