April 23, 2013
Speech of the IDB President at conference on modern housing construction in Tashkent
Keynote Speech of the President, IDB, at the International Conference on “Modern housing construction as a driving force of comprehensive development and transformation of rural areas, enhancing the living standards of population”

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful Your Excellency, Honourable Mr. Islam Karimov, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Honourable representatives of the participating organizations, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, Allow me at the outset, on behalf of the Islamic Development Bank Group, to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Your Excellency, Honourable Mr. Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan for your support and guidance provided to this international event which has put the globally important issues of rural modernization and development at the spot of global debate.

It is another testimony to many admirable milestones and achievements Uzbekistan has accomplished under Your Excellency’s wise and far-sighted leadership.

Many thanks and appreciation to the People and the Government of Uzbekistan for the very warm welcome and hospitality extended to the participants and for hosting us in this historic city of Tashkent.

I am delighted to observe the genuine interest of international and national organizations, the private sector and academia to this extremely important conference. It is a great honor and privilege for me to address this strategic gathering of highly distinguished policy makers and practitioners on a subject of far-reaching importance for all the Member Countries of the Islamic Development Bank. This international conference is a strong testimony to the willingness and commitment of the Government of Uzbekistan as well as its international development partners in modernization of the rural areas and further improvement of the living standards, economic and employment opportunities of the rural population.

IDB team who visited the modern affordable housing sites built by the Government in Rural Areas was very much impressed by the overall quality of the infrastructure and the high standard of the houses. The results of this conference as well as the successful experience of Uzbekistan in this field will benefit other countries all over the world who are planning to or currently undertaking rural modernization initiatives.

Your Excellency Mr President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, The integrated rural development initiative, which is pivotal element of Uzbekistan’s overall reform program, is a powerful attestation to the consistency and effectiveness of the \"Uzbek Model\" of economic reform. This model has successfully combined improving living standards of the population with the high and sustained rates of economic growth. It is also commendable to note that the integrated rural development initiatives are not implemented in isolation, but in parallel to the large-scale programs aimed at modernization of the industrial capacity of the country as well as the economic and social infrastructure. All these have been important for achieving the balanced regional economic development as well.

Your Excellency Mr President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Uzbekistan is endowed with very young population. Under the 14 years old generation is making about one – third of the population. About half of the population are living in rural areas. All these demonstrate the importance of rural modernization and development for comprehensive socio-economic development of Uzbekistan.

Recognizing this, the Government of Uzbekistan has made significant investments in modernization and development of rural infrastructure expanding economic opportunities for the rural population. In this regard, I would like to highlight establishment of the state banks and adoption of several state programs which have contributed to providing access to soft financing for the rural development projects including rural housing and rural infrastructure development.

As a result of these initiatives, the rural poverty has declined by 15 % during 2002-2008, accompanied by growth of economic opportunities and enhancement of living standards in rural areas of the country.

Your Excellency Mr President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, The rural development has been one of the main areas supported by the IDB in Uzbekistan since the beginning of valuable partnership between Uzbekistan and the IDB Group. The rural development and agriculture accounts for significant share of the IDB’s operations in the country demonstrating IDB’s commitment to the rural development and enhancement of the living standards and economic opportunities of the rural population.

IDB Group’s support to rural development is part of the diverse portfolio of IDB in Uzbekistan, which as of today amounts to US$ 1.07 billion including operations in agriculture, energy, transport, education and health sectors designed to support the strategies and programs of the Government in these sectors.

The Bank has also provided financing for the education and health projects, which mainly benefited or will benefit the rural population upon completion through construction of 28 secondary schools (15 have been commissioned) and 5 vocational colleges. The IDB has successfully finished the project which supplied 16 emergency clinics in all administrative regions of the country with the modern medical equipment and technologies. The new project approved last year for oncology treatment services will provide the modern equipment to all of the 15 oncology centers across the country. Just in the past year, the Bank and the Government have signed agreements for 3 projects in the health care, energy and agriculture sectors for an amount of US$ 227.7 million on top of the capacity building grant.

The excellent partnership between Uzbekistan and the IDB Group is enriched with the cooperation and support of the Arab Coordination Group including the Qatari Fund, the Saudi Fund for Development, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the OPEC Fund for International Development. As part of this partnership, the ACG held two high-level roundtable meetings in close cooperation with and at the request of the Government of Uzbekistan. These roundtable meetings resulted in joint financing of numerous strategic social and economic infrastructure projects in Uzbekistan with a total amount of nearly US$1 billion.

IDB Group has also organized a large scale investment conference in Uzbekistan in October 2003 aimed at attraction of the foreign direct investments into the private sector.

More than 175 business persons and representatives of the private sector from IDB member countries participated in the conference organized in close support of the Government. The conference enabled identification of viable investment opportunities in Uzbekistan and establishment of useful business connections. The purpose of these activities is not only to enhance the cooperation between Uzbekistan and IDB, but also to strengthen the relationship and the cooperation between Uzbekistan and other Member countries of the IDB.

Furthermore as part of the IDB Group’s support to Uzbekistan, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) - the private sector support arm of the IDB Group - established a new leasing company in Uzbekistan. As of to-date, the ICD allocated several lines of financing for six commercial banks in the country for supporting the SMEs development in rural areas, which have been fully utilized and a new line of financing is under consideration.

We are planning to further expand and enhance our excellent cooperation with the Government in coming years. Building on our successful experience, the IDB Group is planning to initiate a strategic dialogue with Uzbekistan to prepare a strategic framework for the Group’s future operations in Uzbekistan, a process we call the ‘Member Country Partnership Strategy or (MCPS). The MCPS will be developed in close partnership and support of the Government, which will articulate a common vision for the IDB Group’s mid-term contribution to Uzbekistan’s social and economic development process. The MCPS will be designed in a way to be fully consistent with and to support the Government’s national development strategy with particular focus for the rural development initiatives including affordable housing for the rural population. The results of this international conference will be duly reflected in our strategy dialogue. Given the needs on the ground, we believe that integrated rural development and improvement of the welfare of the rural population will be one of the key pillars of the upcoming partnership strategy of the IDB Group in Uzbekistan.

Your Excellency Mr. President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Uzbekistan’s successful experience in rural modernization and development as well as the results of this important conference can especially be useful case for all neighbouring countries. The esteemed Republic of Uzbekistan can harness the potential of these factors to achieve substantial improvement of the welfare in rural areas. The IDB Group together with its solid partnership of international development organizations including the Arab Coordination Group stands ready to support the regional cooperation initiatives of the Government of Uzbekistan, as it has done in the past.

In this regard, I am pleased to note that, recently the IDB Group began preparation of its flagship program for the region, called the Program for Economic Cooperation and Development of the IDB Member Countries in Central Asia and Caucasus. The program, which will be prepared in close partnership with the concerned IDB member countries in the region, aims at further enhancing economic cooperation among the IDB member countries through supporting regional transport, trade and energy initiatives. As a major country in the region, the Republic of Uzbekistan will have significant role in the preparation and implementation of this program of the IDB Group.

Your Excellency Mr President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, IDB is planning and committed to further supporting the commendable efforts of the Government of Uzbekistan aimed at comprehensive human development in rural areas, improvement of living standards of the rural people and modernization of the rural infrastructure. We believe that these efforts will further accelerate the economic growth and development of the esteemed member country of Uzbekistan enabling more effective use of the potential and resources of the rural regions under Your Excellency’s wise leadership. Our commitment to supporting the integrated rural development initiatives in Uzbekistan will be reflected in the upcoming member country partnership strategy to be finalized by the end of 2013. The IDB participation in the Uzbekistan’s current development agenda including the subject integrated rural development initiatives will form some of the pillars of our MCPS discussion.

Your Excellency Mr. President, Honourable Participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, On this occasion and considering the special interest of the President of Uzbekistan in rural housing, IDB would be glad to establish a program to support institutions in Uzbekistan to establish mortgage financing on Islamic Banking principles, which may appeal to many people in rural areas.

If relevant institutions are interested in this idea, IDB specialists are ready to provide their technical expertise and know-how with relevant institutions. This could be very important contribution from Uzbekistan for the whole region in respect to development of housing in the rural areas.

I would like to conclude my statement with sincere prayer that, Allah the Most Gracious, may guide our steps and make this Conference a milestone in further development of the rural areas of this Great country of Uzbekistan.

I thank you for your kind attention. (Source:UzDaily.com)


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