WASHINGTON, DC -- Uzbekistan's economic transformation and market reforms, aimed at increasing jobs and prosperity for all its citizens, will receive further support through a $500 million (4.3 trillion UZS) Development Policy Operation (DPO) loan from the World Bank.
The World Bank approved the loan June 14.
The DPO will help sustain Uzbekistan's economic reforms to reorient the economy towards greater private sector-led growth and job creation, the World Bank said in a statement.
Guided by the Uzbek government's 2017-2021 Development Strategy, the DPO supports Uzbekistan in implementing reforms in two critical areas: increasing the role of markets and the private sector in the economy and strengthening social inclusion.
"Uzbekistan's wide-ranging reforms continue, bolstered by significant support from the country's citizens and the international community," said Hideki Mori, the World Bank's country manager for Uzbekistan.
"This DPO provides additional support as the focus of reform shifts from regulatory changes to more complex institutional reforms, which are necessary to support private sector growth, increase job creation and ensure greater social inclusion of the most vulnerable citizens," he said.
According to the World Bank's "Listening to Citizens of Uzbekistan" survey involving more than 4,000 households across the country, 95% of participants are optimistic about the future of the country.
The latest DPO, which builds on a first from June 2018, supports the Uzbek government in deepening and sustaining the reforms that started in 2017.
The goal is to support the government's efforts to increase trade and investment, strengthen financial sector efficiency and implement key institutional changes that are critical to the country's economic transition.
The DPO also aims to help the government ensure greater social inclusion during the transition through reforms that increase formal jobs in the economy, strengthen skills, improve social safety nets and increase the voice and participation of citizens in the budgeting process.
Significant reforms in past 2 years
Over the last 24 months, Uzbekistan has taken significant steps in transforming its economy.
Following an initial wave of reforms to liberalise its currency and lift trade and regulatory barriers, reforms in recent months have focused on measures to further decrease regulatory and tax burdens, overhaul visa and registration requirements for foreign citizens visiting Uzbekistan and reduce the state's footprint in the economy.
Simultaneously, reforms have also focused on strengthening human capital, reforming the labor market and enhancing social safety nets.
The World Bank supports Uzbekistan through 22 projects totaling over $3.6 billion (30.7 trillion UZS), in addition to a comprehensive program of analytical and advisory services.
These activities contribute to the country's overall economic growth, through implementation of economic reforms, improvements in agriculture and water-resources management, energy, transport, healthcare, education, urban development as well as water supply and sanitation services.
Increasing the well-being of all the country's citizens helps drain away the appeal of extremism.
Uzbekistan is making strong progress in implementing challenging economic reforms to support growth and build opportunities for citizens, said Cyril Muller, World Bank vice president for Europe and Central Asia, during a visit to Uzbekistan on February 26-27.
"Broad economic reforms are helping promote greater transparency and accountability, leading to better public services for citizens," said Muller.
"Continued reforms in the business environment, the banking, financial and energy sectors, land and agriculture and especially health and education will boost private sector investments, create jobs -- especially for young people -- and help the country achieve sustainable economic growth," he said.
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