|Funding for Uzbekistan|
Meeting President Islam Karimov on 12 January in Tashkent, World Bank President James Wolfensohn announced plans to loan Uzbekistan $350 million between 2002 and 2004 to fund projects in the health, agriculture, banking, and water-resources sectors, Interfax and RFE/RL reported. The same day, Wolfensohn and Finance Minister Mamarizo Normurodov signed a $40 million credit agreement for a project to improve water supplies to the towns of Samarkand and Bukhara. The bank chief wrapped up his three-day visit to Uzbekistan on 13 January with a call for the government to speed up economic reforms, especially urging measures to make the national currency convertible, RIA-Novosti reported. Uzbekistan has received $494 million from the World Bank since joining it in 1992. Tashkent earlier this year committed to an IMF structural-reform program whereby currency convertibility would be achieved and the various official exchange rates unified by the end of June 2002.