Speech by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at the opening plenary session of the Tashkent International Investment Forum, 24 March 2022
I thank His Excellency President Mirziyoyev – and colleagues from across the development community and private sector – for gathering here with us today.
I am proud of the excellent cooperation between ADB and the government of Uzbekistan since 1995. This strong relationship has allowed us to provide ADB’s unique combination of knowledge, financing, and partnerships to help accelerate development – especially for populations most in need. ADB is also supporting reforms that will enable the private sector to contribute more fully to Uzbekistan’s future.
Let me offer some highlights.
I. ADB’s achievements in the public sector
There have been some notable achievements from our work together in recent years.
First, on industrial development, we supported the construction and reconstruction of regional infrastructure: namely, roads and railways. This has helped to connect people and foster trade. We also contribute across the energy sector: in power generation, transmission and distribution.
Second, to diversify the agriculture sector, we provide capital to horticulture farmers through banks right here in Uzbekistan. This is leading to higher value crops, including exports. And it has contributed to income gains for farmers – along with nearly 5,000 jobs, including one third to women.
Third, we are on track to help at least 10 million additional residents gain access to improved rural and urban infrastructure services. And in housing, over 7,300 families have secured loans since we launched ADB’s mortgage market program in 2020. Over 43,000 houses have also been built since we began supporting the state’s housing program in 2012.
II. ADB’s support for reforms to promote private sector development
Let me now focus on how ADB is supporting reforms in Uzbekistan.
Our aim is to accelerate the transition to a market economy while maintaining macroeconomic stability. It will be important to look at the role of the government, including reducing state involvement in financial intermediation. We also want to improve access to infrastructure and social services – we feel that public private partnerships can play a role here.
Reforms in these areas will improve the investment environment, by opening up participation and competition for the private sector. We also want to strengthen economic management, facilitate better public financial management, and improve the performance of state-owned enterprises.
An example of this is our Power Sector Reform Program, where we partner with the government to adopt measures that attract independent power producers, such as non-discriminatory access to the national grid. Or in the mortgage market, where we support reforms that improve access to long-term market-based funding, competitive housing finance products, and better targeted housing subsidies.
In short, it will be important to expand Uzbekistan’s investor base, by developing the norms and infrastructure that support a market economy.
We also need to improve service delivery for citizens – for instance, by linking budget outlays to results. We need to create additional fiscal space to augment public investment. And we need to crowd in private investment – for example, by improving the efficiency of public investments.
Our cooperation has been strong in these and many other areas, and we are seeing concrete results for businesses and the people of Uzbekistan. I thank everyone here for your contributions – as we work together for a more prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future for Uzbekistan and the region.