It is a great honor and privilege for me to be standing here in my capacity as World Bank Country Director for Moldova to celebrate with you all two decades of partnership between the World Bank Group and the Republic of Moldova. I would like to welcome and thank all of you for joining us tonight as we celebrate a very comprehensive, fruitful and strong partnership between Moldova and the World Bank Group.
In the past twenty years, Moldova has made significant progress in its development:
- Poverty rate was reduced from 72 percent in 1999 in the aftermath of the Russian crisis to under 22 percent in 2010
- The country has put in place the basic legal and institutional framework for a market economy
- There is now a better targeted social assistance system in place to support the very poor and most vulnerable
- Moldova also joined the World Trade Organization so the country is more closely integrated with the world economy
- And Moldova is now negotiating the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU which will help its further integration with Europe.
We are delighted that the World Bank Group has been able to support Moldova’s development. In these twenty years of partnership, our support to Moldova has been diverse, ranging from support to rural development, education, health, social protection to transport, energy, environmental protection, public administration, private sector development.
Our portfolio of commitments has reached US$ 910 million in support of 45 operations with an additional US$ 200 million in trust funds. Our colleagues in the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, both members of the World Bank Group, have targeted improvements in the country’s investment climate and provided funding close to US$ 300 million to support key sectors of the economy and offering risk guarantees to attract and retain foreign direct investments.
As an institution that is focused on eradicating poverty and enhancing shared prosperity, we are delighted that through our support, we have been able to contribute to improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Moldovans at different levels and improving Moldova’s competitiveness. With our support:
- 65 pre-school institutions were renovated, 600 schools received teaching materials, 1176 schools received equity school grants, 300 schools received quality grants for students in poor rural schools and 8000 teachers and managers have benefited from training
- Over 40 primary healthcare centres have been rehabilitated which are now offering better health service to rural communities
- 27,000 teachers and students and 1.2 million patients and hospital visitors have benefited from improved and more reliable heating
- Over 50,000 poor households are benefitting from targeted social assistance as part of the Adjutor Social programme and about 932,000 people are benefiting from the Moldova Social Investment Fund
- Over 400 companies have benefitted from co-financing through a matching grants facility and 1,700 new businesses in high-value agriculture, livestock and small industries have been created with 7,000 new jobs
- Over 400,000 farmers are benefiting from higher quality services of the Rural Development Agency through the Rural Investment Services Project.
All of these results would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our counterparts from government, academic and non-governmental organizations, private sector, the many citizens of this country who have put their mind and heart to help make Moldova a better place, and the World Bank Group staff who have worked tirelessly over the years to deliver the Bank Group’s mission in the country.
I would also like to thank our friends and colleagues in the development partner community with whom we share both an unshakeable commitment to help make Moldova a successful and prosperous country and a drive to work in partnership and coordination to support critical reforms and make the best and most efficient use of our resources and expertise.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Moldova has achieved a lot in the past 20 years but much remains to be done to realize Moldova’s aspirations. The external environment is very challenging: the risks and uncertainties around the Eurozone crisis are likely to continue, the frequency of crisis is likely to increase, the adverse impact of climate change is real, as evidenced by the recent severe drought in the country, investors are becoming much more selective and the world is clearly becoming much more competitive.
For a small, open economy like Moldova, what this means is that you will have to work a lot harder to improve the investment climate, to invest in education and infrastructure and to enhance the governance, quality and efficiency of public administration in order to attract quality foreign investors and to stimulate domestic investment.
As many of you know, the Chinese phrase for crisis means both danger and opportunity. Indeed, amid the dangers of the Eurozone crisis, negotiations and signing of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with EU offers a historical opportunity for Moldova to accelerate structural and judicial reforms and to transform Moldova into a truly open and competitive economy. As you continue your efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve shared prosperity for all Moldovans through this transformation journey, you will have our continued, unwavering support.
Again, I want to thank you all for your contributions to this two-decade long partnership between Moldova and the World Bank Group...