By Rasana Gasimova
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) continues exploring possibilities to attract direct investments in the private sector of Azerbaijan’s economy, Wiebke Schloemer, IFC's director for Europe and Central Asia said in an interview with Trend.
“Our partnership relations that cover fiscal period of 2016-2020, establish the strategy of the World Bank Group (WB) in Azerbaijan aimed at helping the country on the way towards sustainable and inclusive growth led by the private sector. To enhance the role of the private sector, IFC is working with the Azerbaijani government to facilitate conditions for companies to conduct business and invest in the non-oil sector of the Azerbaijani economy, “said Schloemer.
“We support the government by introducing international experience in the field of business regulation, investment policy and helping to increase competitiveness of the agricultural sector, which is a key area for creation new jobs,” she added.
The Regional Director noted that IFC also helps streamline regulations and modernize the national food safety management system as part of the World Bank Group’s Azerbaijan Investment Climate and Agribusiness Competitiveness project implemented by IFC with support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Austrian Ministry of Finance.
“Our Electronic and Digital Financial Services project is aimed at further expanding access of individuals and small businesses to financial services. The work includes assistance in introducing modern electronic banking services in the country. This will improve access to financial services for customers who find it difficult to access industry services. It will also provide institutional and market support to help create an ecosystem that promotes digitizing financial services,” Schloemer said.
In her words, the IFC has been investing in Azerbaijan for more than two decades. The organization keeps exploring opportunities to attract direct investments in private enterprises, as well as in financial institutions for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises.
“Lastly, the IFC is committed to supporting the government in structuring pilot projects of public-private partnership. We can help attract private investments, offering its advisory support in structuring of public-private partnership projects in various spheres,” said the Regional Director.
Schloemer recalled that the State Oil Fund (SOFAZ) partnered with IFC in 2013 and has committed $350 million to three funds managed by the IFC Asset Management Company.
Note that IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.
Established in 1944, the WBG is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for development solutions.
Azerbaijan became a member of IFC in 1995. To date, IFC has invested $473 million, of which $73 million was mobilized from other lenders, financing 56 long-term projects across a range of sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing sectors.
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