Dushanbe, Tajikistan, April 5, 2013 –The challenge of reducing extreme poverty and building shared prosperity was the major theme of the official visit of Mr. Kaushik Basu, the World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics, who visited Tajikistan on April 4-5. The role of public policy in achieving the ambitious target of ending extreme poverty by 2030, laid out by the World Bank Group President Jim Kim, was discussed by Mr. Basu in the context of Tajikistan in his meetings with the top leadership of Tajikistan, donors, civil society and the public.
“Although economic growth is likely to be the main driver of poverty reduction, in most countries, markets cannot do it alone,” said Mr. Basu during his public lecture held in the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe on April 5. “Public policy plays a central role in strengthening the institutional foundations within which markets operate, in providing public goods, and in correcting market failures. It is essential to deploy efficient social safety nets to protect the poor, especially in times of crisis. At the same time, it is equally essential to move ahead with reforms to attract more private investment – and jobs – to the country.”
In his meeting with the Government’s economic team, Mr. Basu commended Tajikistan for the progress made over the last decade in reducing poverty thanks to strong economic growth and sizable remittance inflows. He noted that the task ahead is to invest in basic human needs: maternal and child health, education, clean drinking water, and energy and food security - all vital elements of the Government's “Living Standards Improvement Strategy” for 2013-2015. In particular, he underlined the benefits of an effective and targeted social assistance system in reducing poverty, offering citizens a protection mechanism, and achieving higher coverage of the extreme poor. The Chief Economist highlighted that improving access of the population to quality education, health services, food security, and addressing winter energy needs will continue to be priority areas for the World Bank Group in Tajikistan as these are essential elements, along with a targeted social assistance system, for eradicating extreme poverty and building shared prosperity.
As part of his visit, Mr. Basu visited a local school in Nurek, which since 2008 has been financed through the per capita financing mechanism - a key reform supported by the World Bank in Tajikistan, aimed at increasing the efficiency and transparency in education financing at the local level. He also visited the Nurek Hydro Power Plant (HPP), the world’s highest dam and the source of 96% of Tajikistan’s electricity. A study for rehabilitation and sedimentation management of this important HPP is currently ongoing as part of the World Bank financed Energy Loss Reduction Project.
This year, Tajikistan and the World Bank Group will be celebrating 20 years of partnership. Tajikistan joined the World Bank in 1993 and the International Development Association (IDA) in 1994. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided approximately US$843 million in IDA grants and trust funds to Tajikistan. Around 34% of these funds have been committed for agriculture and rural development sector. Other major sectors for IDA support since 1996 are economic policy and public sector (17%), energy (15%), water and urban development (15%), health and social protection (9%), and education (10%).
These investments support the World Bank Group’s mission of promoting economic growth, reducing poverty and building shared prosperity in Tajikistan.