In the past five years, Azerbaijan’s needs have significantly changed as the country’s economy has expanded and diversified, Wencai Zhang, Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said in an interview with Trend and AzerNews.
Talking about the new five-tear Country Partnership Strategy for Azerbaijan, Zhang noted that given the government’s conservative approach to external borrowing, the new CPS, in its early years, will support the government through policy-based operations, technical assistance, policy dialogue, and capacity development of key government institutions.
“We also aim to increase our work in private sector operations; provide local currency financing through tapping the domestic capital market; and deploy new lending approaches such as project-ready financing for the preparation and design of projects, which was requested by government during the initial years of the CPS,” he said.
The three main areas that ADB will likely focus on over the next five years in Azerbaijan are: (i) supporting the acceleration, sustainability and diversification of the country’s economy; (ii) improving the efficiency of the public sector; and (iii) improving infrastructure and human capital to meet the needs of a diversified economy, according to ADB vice-president.
He pointed out that the government has undertaken several important reforms to increase the efficiency of public spending and improve SOE performance.
“These reforms are supported by ADB’s Improving Governance and Public Sector Efficiency Program – a programmatic approach to support policy reforms that was approved in December 2017,” said Zhang.
“Specifically, the government has adopted fiscal rules to reduce budget dependency on oil revenues; a medium-term expenditure framework to sustain state budget expenditures on critical infrastructure projects and social sector (education, health, social assistance); and a public debt management strategy to ensure fiscal sustainability of the government’s and public corporate sector’s borrowing. We commend these measures.”
Further, he noted that Strategy 2030 identifies seven operational priorities which were developed in close consultation with ADB members, including Azerbaijan.
” Our priorities are (i) addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequality; ii) accelerating progress in gender equality; (iii) tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability; (iv) making cities more livable; (v) promoting rural development and food security; (vi) strengthening governance and institutional capacity; and, (vii) fostering regional cooperation. These focus areas, with due consideration of the country’s specific needs and the government’s policy priorities, will guide our engagement with Azerbaijan in the medium-term,” added the ADB vice-president.
ADB was founded in 1966 and 67 states are its members. The bank’s headquarters is located in Manila, Philippines.
Azerbaijan became an ADB member on Dec. 22, 1999 and its share in the bank is 0.5 percent.
Since 2003, the bank has allocated loans to Azerbaijan worth over $4 billion for implementation of more than 30 projects in the public and private sectors. The amount of technical assistance provided by the bank to Azerbaijan amounts to almost $30 million.