Sustainable growth, job creation focus of new World Bank strategy in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT (TCA) — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on June 14 discussed a new Country Partnership Framework for Uzbekistan for 2016-2020. The new strategy is aligned with the country’s own goal of achieving upper middle-income status by 2030 by increasing the economy’s competitiveness, improving the business environment, and developing its infrastructure to support rapid job creation, the World Bank said.

In Uzbekistan, the World Bank Group has been a long term partner, providing advice on improving the country’s economic and financial management. Over the last decade, Uzbekistan’s economy grew steadily, was largely resilient to shocks and made good progress in lifting significant parts of the population out of poverty. Given the current weakened external economic environment, Uzbekistan will need to find new drivers for economic growth, so the creation of good jobs has become one of the most important development challenges facing the country.

“A primary development challenge, given the rapidly increasing labor force, is the creation of new productive and sustainable jobs, requiring accelerated transition toward a private sector-driven, market-based economy in Uzbekistan,” said Junghun Cho, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan. “Private sector development, modernization and liberalization of agriculture, and improved public services for the people are all essential to help Uzbekistan sustain income growth.”

The new framework is underpinned by the Systematic Country Diagnostic for Uzbekistan, the World Bank Group’s comprehensive analysis of economic conditions, challenges, and constraints that the country faces in the short and medium term in reducing poverty and achieving shared prosperity. The new framework was developed based on a broad dialogue with the Government of Uzbekistan and consultations with development partners, including civil society organizations, academia, the business community, professional associations, and multilateral and bilateral donors.

The strategy focuses on three priority areas: private sector growth, agricultural competitiveness and cotton sector modernization, and improved public service delivery. Under the first focus area, the World Bank Group will help improve the business environment and support private sector investments in the country. Under the second focus area, the Bank Group will support changes towards a more remunerative, market-based, job intensive agriculture system, along with more sustainable management of land and water resources. To enhance public service delivery, the World Bank Group will provide support for improved access to water supply and sanitation, increased quality of education and health services as well as better transport services and urban development.

“In Uzbekistan, greater participation by the private sector is essential to ensure broad-based growth that is both inclusive and sustainable. International Finance Corporation looks forward to expanding its partnership with Uzbekistan by supporting a private sector-driven agenda of growth and job creation,” said Moazzam Mekan, Regional Manager for Central Asia for the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Sergey Kwan