IDB Forum Focuses on Private Sector Investment, Supporting SMEs

ALMATY – Government officials, bankers and experts from 11 member countries of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) converged on Almaty on Jan. 14-16 for a forum assessing the IDB’s performance over the past four decades, particularly with respect to economic cooperation programmes with member countries.

Asset Issekeshev, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies led his country’s delegation.

To date, the IDB has invested in Kazakhstan $500 million of the total $1.2 billion contracted for the period of 2012-2014, Yerlan Baidauletov, a member of IDB’s board of directors, reported.

According to Baidauletov, the bank plans to intensify its work with the private sector by both boosting project financing and initiating new deals. He added that active negotiations on new projects were underway.

During the forum, Issekeshev noted that the IDB has financed predominantly government projects in Kazakhstan. “When we signed the country strategy, we emphasised private sector financing by the IDB. Currently, the main IDB activities are tied to financing the trade and wheat sectors. However, it is important to implement new projects financing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” Issekeshev said.

The IDB, with the Baiterek National Innovation Holding, has recently established the Central Asian Fund of Renewable Energy. According to Issekeshev, the fund will start financing projects as soon as this year. He suggested that leasing companies also start financing SME projects this year.

Forum participants also examined the approaches and programmes of economic cooperation between IDB member countries. During the forum, two workshops, dedicated to issues in global Islamic financial sector development and assistance to Muslim communities in non-member countries, took place.

Public and private sector experts, including bankers, central bankers, officials and experts from economic ministries from Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan attended the workshop on Islamic financial sector development. The participants discussed the effectiveness of the IDB’s programmes promoting Islamic financing within the region.

The workshop on development assistance to Muslim communities in non-member countries in the region brought together representatives from Muslim communities in Mongolia, Georgia, Kosovo, Latvia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Russia to discuss the impact of programmes in various sectors including education, health, awqaf (religious endowment) investments, private sector support and relief aid.

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