World Bank provides financial resources to Uzbekistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- On 17 May 2021, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan held a meeting with Anna Bjerde, Vice-President of the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia. From 14 to 18 May, she is paying an official visit to Uzbekistan as part of her first working tour to Central Asian states.
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan Timur Ishmetov, First Deputy Minister of Finance Omonullo Nasritdinkhodjayev, and Deputy Ministers of Finance Odilbek Isakov, Jamshid Abruev, and other officials.
The World Bank delegation also included the Katarzyna Zajdel-Kurowska, Executive Director of the World Bank Group (WBG) representing Uzbekistan on the Board of Executive Directors of the WBG, Lilia Burunciuc, WB Regional Director for Central Asia, Tatyana Proskuryakova, WB Permanent Representative to Romania and Hungary and the new WB Regional Director for Central Asia (from July 1, 2021), and Marco Mantovanelli, WB Country Manager for Uzbekistan.
During the meeting, the parties discussed a number of issues of bilateral cooperation, including the implementation of projects financed by the World Bank in Uzbekistan in such areas as the development of the social protection system, urban and rural infrastructure, water supply systems, etc.
The parties separately considered the reforms in the field of transformation of large state-owned enterprises, as well as the process of reforming state-owned banks within the framework of the Strategy for Reforming the Banking System of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2020 — 2025.
Anna Bjerde’s next meeting was held at the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction of the Republic of Uzbekistan with Jamshid Kuchkarov, Deputy Prime Minister-Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction.
The talks were also attended by Timur Ishmetov, Finance Minister, Akmalkhon Ortikov, Director of the Agency for State Asset Management, Ilkhom Norkulov, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Botir Zahidov, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank, Akhadbek Khaydarov and Odilbek Isakov, Deputy Ministers of Finance.
During the meeting, the parties discussed the reforms implemented by the Government of Uzbekistan in various social and economic areas, including the reform of large state-owned enterprises, measures to reduce poverty, create conditions for developing entrepreneurship, modernize heat supply systems, introduce energy-saving technologies, and better regulate land relations.
The parties discussed priority areas within the framework of the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework for 2022-2026, which is currently being developed, which is aligned with the Government’s plans for the social and economic development of Uzbekistan for the next five years.
Bjerde welcomed the Government’s commitment to continue implementing important social and economic reforms despite the crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. She stressed that the World Bank will continue to provide financial and advisory assistance to the country in implementing reforms aimed at its transition to an inclusive and sustainable market economy.
Following the negotiations between the World Bank and the Government of Uzbekistan, a ceremony of signing of financial and grant agreements on the Water Services and Institutional Support Project in Uzbekistan was held. A US$239 million credit from the World Bank and a US$ 7.8 million grant from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs are allocated for implementing the project.
Thanks to the project, over 500,000 people in three regions of Uzbekistan will get better access to water supply and sanitation services. The project will help improve infrastructure for sewerage collection and treatment in the towns of Nukus, Takhiatash, and Khodjeyli, in the Republic of Karakalpakstan. It will also finance the development and reconstruction of WSS systems in the Syrdarya region and Kattakurgan town of Samarkand region.
A financial agreement on the Modernizing National Innovation System Project in Uzbekistan was signed. A US$50 million credit from the World Bank is allocated for implementing the project.
The new project will help the Government develop a market-oriented National Innovation System. It will stimulate collaboration between state agencies, public research organizations, and the private sector in the area of R&D, and commercialization of scientific and innovative products and services.
The project will improve the capacity of public research organizations (PROs) to achieve international standards of research quality and enable the commercialization of research results. Senior and junior researchers from local universities or research institutes will be able to get grants to implement up to 50 R&D sub-projects, including joint ones with international researchers and the private sector.
In addition, up to 30 grants will be allocated among local firms to finance the launch of their knowledge-based startups and invest in R&D of new or existing innovative products and services, which they can sell locally or export. For instance, firms can apply for financing to develop medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology products and services.
The project will also invest in the modernization of infrastructure and laboratories of selected Research Institutes that will be identified by the Ministry of Innovative Development (MID) after a full assessment of all candidate institutions.
The World Bank supports Uzbekistan through technical assistance and the financing of 24 projects. They provide support in critical areas such as macroeconomic reforms, agriculture, health, education, water supply and sanitation, energy, transport, social protection, urban and rural development, as well as mitigation of health, economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.