Yerevan, November 12, 2014 – Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, has completed her first official visit to Armenia since assuming office in September 2013. During her three-day visit from November 9-11, Ms. Tuck stressed that the World Bank would continue supporting the country’s social-economic reform agenda to further promote growth, improve competitiveness, enhance the business environment, create more jobs, and advance public service delivery.
During her visit, Ms. Tuck met with the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, along with key line Ministers, and held discussions with representatives of civil society organizations and development partners. The Vice President also visited a number of sites of project sites supported by the World Bank and the IFC.
In a meeting with President Serzh Sargsyan, Ms. Tuck discussed Armenia’s economic outlook, and exchanged views on regional dynamics and possible effects on the country. She stated that the Bank recognizes the challenges Armenia faces and is committed to sustaining the multifaceted partnership and deepening the Bank’s support for the country.
During the meeting with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, the Vice President confirmed the Bank’s strong interest in supporting the Government in preparing and implementing a more ambitious reform agenda on governance and competitiveness issues, as well as in providing further support to Armenia’s efforts to implement development projects in various sectors.
“It is encouraging to see that Armenia’s government has emphasized its commitment to deepening the full range of regional and global economic and trading relationships available to the country,” said Laura Tuck. “We are eager to support this pragmatic effort by continuing our policy dialogue on the reform agenda, by conducting new analytical work to assist the government in making informed policy choices, and by strengthening the synergies that can be delivered by the World Bank and the IFC working together.”
As part of her program, Ms. Tuck visited a number of project sites where the Bank has provided substantial financial and policy reform support. On the border with Georgia, the customs point of Bagratashen in Tavush province has benefitted from installing basic infrastructure and transforming the primary facility into a professionally-functioning customs house with all the necessary equipment and technology, enabling the remote monitoring of operations.
Ms. Tuck also visited the Alaverdi Medical Center in Lori Region, where the Bank has supported a major rehabilitation by providing modern equipment and technology for the facility under the Health System Modernization and Social Investment Fund projects. She discussed with physicians and nurses the needs for effective maintenance, and also had the opportunity to interact with patients.
During a meeting with the Vice President, several representatives from key civil society organizations shared candidly their views on governance, education, environment, gender and disability mainstreaming. Ms. Tuck expressed appreciation for their continuous cooperation with the World Bank for many years and stressed that the Bank is looking forward to further increasing opportunities for NGOs to have more say in the Bank-supported operations.
“We will continue working with Armenia to further develop our strong partnership so that the country addresses its challenges articulated in the Armenia Development Strategy (ADS), “ said Laura Tuck. “The World Bank is positioned to support Armenia by improving competitiveness for job creation, paying attention to both rural and urban groups, supporting transparency, and promoting equality and social inclusion”.
Ms. Tuck saw first-hand the results of efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of education through the establishment of pre-school facilities in Geghashen village of Kotayk marz, and better delivery of social services at the integrated social protection center in Avan community of Yerevan.
She also visited the Taxpayer Service Center in the Arabkir District, which has been supported under the Tax Administration Modernization project and provides terminals for e-declaration and other on-line services available to over 13,000 taxpayers.
At the Campus of the State Engineering University, Ms. Tuck visited the Mobile Application “Innovation Lab” which provides a wide range of innovation support services, where local and regional companies, technologists and experts collaborate to develop locally relevant applications. During her visit, she met with many young programmers and was impressed with the level of energy and creativity they were investing in developing mobile applications.
Ms. Tuck also had the chance to see energy efficiency improvements at the Armenia State University of Economics, financed by a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Vice President noted that energy efficiency is a win-win for everyone and is a least-cost option for meeting the increasing demand for energy in Armenia. She also stressed the importance of scaling up energy efficiency in other sectors.
Ms. Tuck was impressed by the impact generated at the Noyan company (Euroterm) in Dzoraghbiur where IFC investment supported one of the leading Armenian fruit juice, concentrate, and canned food producers and exporters with strong linkages to hundreds of local farmers and SMEs.
The World Bank’s active portfolio in Armenia consists of 17 operations with total commitments of US$ 517.7 million. It includes US$ 200 million in International Development Association (IDA) credits and US$ 316 million in International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loans, along with a Global Environmental Fund (GEF) project of US$ 1.8 million.
Since joining the World Bank in 1992 and IDA in 1993, the total IDA and IBRD commitments to Armenia amount to US$ 2,036,730 million.