World Bank vice president discusses partnership with Kazakhstan

ASTANA (TCA) — The World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Cyril Muller, and the new Executive Director for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan Mr. Werner Gruber, visited Astana on January 16 to discuss with the Kazakh Government the progress made during the 25-year partnership, as well as new avenues for continued cooperation for the benefit of the people of Kazakhstan, the World Bank said.

During the meeting with Kazakhstan Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev, the sides discussed the Government’s reform agenda and progress it is making in strengthening governance and reducing the role of the state in the country’s economy under the “One Hundred Concrete Steps, a Modern State for All” program. They also discussed the Bank’s potential support for future reforms in areas including agriculture and logistics, which could become growth drivers in the new economic model for Kazakhstan.

“As a trusted long standing partner, we have been privileged to both support and witness an impressive development process in Kazakhstan over the last 25 years that is improving people’s lives,” said Cyril Muller. “Going forward, we see the Bank continuing to contribute to the government’s central objectives of enhancing the country’s competitiveness and creating jobs. We look forward to continue our collaboration with Kazakhstan.”

During the 25 year partnership, Kazakhstan has transitioned from lower-middle income to upper-middle income status. Since 2002, GDP per capita has risen six-fold and the incidence of poverty has fallen sharply.

One of the highlights of the World Bank–Kazakhstan partnership has been the Bank’s support for the SyrDarya Control and Northern Aral Sea Project that helped revive the disappearing Northern Aral Sea bringing new life to the region. The sea level has increased, salinity has been reduced by two times, fish production has been restored and people are now back in their homes.

In the latest Doing Business Report 2017, Kazakhstan ranked 35th out of 190 countries worldwide, moving up and achieving the status of one of the top ten reformers in the world. At the same time, Cyrill Muller mentioned other important areas beyond the Doing Business indicators referring to a more level-playing field across competitive industries, opening up new sectors to competition, enhancing corporate governance and control over state-owned enterprises, and moving forward with the privatization agenda.

“It is important to improve people’s lives. To achieve inclusive and sustainable growth the country needs to focus on improving business climate, private sector development, quality of education, technical innovation and creating economic opportunities and jobs for everyone,” said Mr. Muller.

While in Astana, the World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia also met with representatives of think tanks and analytical and research centers to discuss the vision for the country’s development priorities for 2018-2022 under a new World Bank Country Program Framework (CPF) for Kazakhstan.

Sergey Kwan