World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia Visits Tajikistan

February 5, 2015

Dushanbe, February 5, 2015 – World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia, Mr. Saroj Kumar Jha, visited Tajikistan on February 3-5, 2015.  Mr. Jha met with the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon and key ministries and entities of the Government of Tajikistan to discuss the World Bank’s current and planned projects, which all focus on supporting higher living standards for the people of Tajikistan.

“Due to changing external environment, Tajikistan’s economic growth is slowing and vulnerability to shocks is increasing,” said World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia, Mr. Saroj Kumar Jha. “With our counterparts in the government we discussed how the World Bank Group can support Tajikistan in protecting the poorest households, while improving macroeconomic management, creating better conditions for business and strengthening public and financial sectors.”

Real GDP growth in Tajikistan had moderated to 6.7 percent in 2014 and a deep recession in Russia will significantly undermine growth and poverty-reduction prospects in Tajikistan in 2015. According to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report, sharp or sustained declines in commodity prices or remittance inflows from Russia—the major source of remittances to the region - represent major risks for the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Tajikistan is particularly vulnerable to these shocks. The World Bank projects the economic growth in Tajikistan to slow down to 4.2 percent in 2015, with significant downside risks.

With partners in the government, development community and civil society organizations, Mr. Jha discussed possible ways in which current and planned projects could help alleviate the potential impact of the economic slowdown on the people of Tajikistan. Additional financing of US$12 million for the ongoing World Bank-financed Second Tajikistan Public Employment for Sustainable Agriculture and Water Resources Management Project (PAMP-II) will allow creating additional 12,000 new temporary jobs, whilst also rehabilitating important drainage and irrigation infrastructure. The new Tajikistan Agriculture Commercialization Project will provide support to farmers in the form of loans and grants to increase productivity and access to domestic and export markets. A grant of US$13.5 million for the Communal Services Development Project will combine financial resources from a number of development partners to increase investments in municipal services, such as clean drinking water, on-site sanitation, solid waste management, street lighting and roads. Additional financing of US$10 million to the ongoing Health Services Improvement Project will help improve maternal and child health outcomes by scaling up the results-based financing scheme. The new US$15 million Higher Education Project aims to strengthen the higher education system and enhance relevance of academic programs to better reflect labor market demands.  A Winter Energy operation is also being planned. Furthermore, the Government of Tajikistan and the World Bank are discussing a possible new Development Policy Financing series to support the reform program aimed at strengthening Tajikistan’s resilience to shocks and creating a foundation for inclusive growth and jobs creation.

“By prioritizing projects that focus on job creation, rural development and social sectors we hope to mitigate the impacts of the economic slowdown in the region on the population of Tajikistan,” said Patricia Veevers-Carter, World Bank Country Manager for Tajikistan. “At the same time our investments in education, health and municipal infrastructure as well as energy focus on creating better living conditions for families in urban and rural regions.”

The World Bank Group’s active portfolio includes 12 projects totaling US$185.1 million that aim to support economic growth through private sector development, while investing in better public services for people, such as education, health, municipal services and social protection. Since 1996, the World Bank has provided US$978 million in grants and highly concessional credits from the International Development Association and trust fund resources to Tajikistan. The World Bank Group is committed to continue supporting Tajikistan as it strives to improve the lives of its people and meet the aspirations of its young and growing population.

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