By Rasana Gasimova
Azerbaijan and the World Bank (WB) plan to hold official negotiations on a $100 million self-employment loan on January 18, Minister of Labor and Social Protection Sahil Babayev has said.
“We have already completed initial negotiations with the World Bank on a loan. Formal negotiations are scheduled for January 18. After that, the loan must be approved by the WB Board of Directors. We expect to sign a loan agreement with the bank by June,” Babayev said at a meeting on the results of 2019 chaired by President Ilham Aliyev.
Babayev noted that before signing the loan agreement, the Ministry of Labor will carry out the necessary preparatory work based on the principle of retro-financing. These works will begin in February.
Babayev noted that the bank’s loan will be used to further develop the self-employment project, which covered 10,354 people in 2019.
“Of these, 8,500 people received the necessary assets on the basis of prepared business plans. The asset allocation process continues, and by the end of the month the remaining citizens will be fully provided with cash," the minister reported.
President Aliyev noted that one of the goals of borrowing loans from the WB for this project is to use the experience of the bank.
“The main goal here, of course, is not to get WB funds, although this is also important. We should learn from their experience, because the WB has implemented similar programs in many countries, and they have extensive experience in this area. Therefore, we attach great importance to the signing of the agreement," the president said.
He also noted that the signing the agreement will determine a new framework for cooperation with the World Bank.
In September 2019, Azerbaijani government sent an official request to the WB to obtain a loan of $100 million for the implementation of the employment support project. WB Board of Directors is planning to approve a loan in the first quarter of 2020.
Earlier, WB Board of Directors announced that it plans to approve the provision of the loan Azerbaijan in the second half of March 2020.
In 2020, the World Bank project is expected to cover around 1,000-2,000 families. In the following years, 5,000 families are expected to be stably financed by the WB.
The project is aimed at improving employment among vulnerable groups of Azerbaijani population who are looking for jobs: youth, women, internally displaced persons, people with disabilities and people with low levels of education.
The project includes three components: increasing the scope and effectiveness of the self-employment program; strengthening the capacity of the State Employment Service; project management, monitoring and evaluation.
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