World Bank conducts interim evaluation of partnership strategy with Azerbaijan

24 September 2019 21:01 (UTC+04:00)

By Rasana Gasimova

The World Bank is currently discussing several new interesting projects with Azerbaijan, Sebastian Molineus, the World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus told in an exclusive interview with Trend.

“We are currently conducting an interim evaluation of the strategic partnership. During this process, we evaluate the results of work in the first half of the implementation of the strategy and decide whether any changes should be made it make it more effective. One of the recommendations is to extend our current partnership framework with the country by one year so that we can better support the country in the years ahead,” said Molineus.

He added that the World Bank is currently discussing several new interesting projects with the Azerbaijani government. They cover sectors in which it traditionally operates, such as transport. The WB Regional Director also expressed hope to work in several new areas, for example, support for a government self-employment program.

“But I have to make one important point: the World Bank does not propose projects to governments. All projects that we support are state projects, and we provide our financial and technical knowledge only to help in the preparation and implementation of these projects," said Molineus.

He went on to say that the current partnership strategy ends in 2020, and the Bank intends to develop and submit a new strategy for the next period.

“Country partnership strategies are based on a very thorough analysis called systematic country diagnostics. Any potential changes in our strategy and approach will be based on this analysis. When developing our partnership strategies, we will work and consult with a wide range of stakeholders such as government, civil society, academia, the private sector and the media, “Molineus explained.

He also noted that for the past 27 years, the World Bank has been Azerbaijan’s reliable partner and supporting the country in the difficult first years of the transition period, helped restore its key infrastructure and carry out important reforms.

“We’ve also learned a great deal from Azerbaijan, and we shared this knowledge with other countries that are undergoing similar transformations. Azerbaijan is currently reviewing its development strategy to put the private sector at the forefront of future economic growth, to improve the quality of its human capital, so that it is able to meet competition of the 21st century economy, to create quality jobs, especially in rural areas, and to provide fast, efficient, and widely available public services,” said Molineus.

He added that his priorities as the World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus would be to continue supporting the government and people of Azerbaijan during this critically important period through a combination of financial, advisory and managerial services.

Note that Azerbaijan joined The World Bank Group in 1992. Since then, the bank has allocated loans in the amount of over three billion dollars for the implementation of over 50 projects in the country. Currently, seven more projects worth about 1.5 billion dollars are being implemented. In addition to loans, the World Bank allocated 45 grants to Azerbaijan for a total of $ 41.586 million in 1995-2014

The World Bank endorsed the 2015-2020 Country Partnership Framework for Azerbaijan in July 2015. The document was adopted after the discussions held by the WB Group’s Board of Executive Directors.

The CPF focuses on two areas: Public Sector Management and Service Delivery and Economic Competitiveness, which are supported by eight specific objectives. Under the CPF’s first focus area, the WB Group helps the country strengthen public resource management, facilitate public service delivery and improve the quality of environmental assets.

Under the second focus area, the WB Group provides support for improving selected infrastructure networks, increasing the country’s financial inclusion, reducing regulatory burden on the private sector, and supporting economic activities in rural areas. The themes of governance and gender are recognized as critical for effective management of resources, social inclusion and accumulation of diversified assets and, as such, will be duly addressed across the whole CPF program.

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