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Investing in People is Crucial to Economic Recovery in Central Asia

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Central Asian economies are on course to contract by 1.7 percent  this year, a sharp reversal from the 4.9 percent growth in 2019, says the latest edition of the World Bank Economic Update for the Europe and Central Asia region released today.

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic varies across Central Asia. Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic will see an economic contraction of 2.5 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively this year. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the other hand, will avoid a recession but growth is likely to be tepid at 1.6 percent (from 7.5 percent in 2019) in Tajikistan and 0.6 percent (from 5.6 percent in 2019) in Uzbekistan.

The pandemic-induced contraction in 2020 is also expected to increase poverty in all countries of Central Asia. At the $3.20 per day poverty line, estimates suggest that an additional 1.4 million people may slip into poverty. At the $5.50 per day poverty line, customarily used in upper-middle-income countries (such as Kazakhstan), the increase in poverty could be over 1.8 million people. and, in the worst-case scenario, over 2.6 million could become poor in the region.

In Central Asia, the World Bank projects growth to recover to 3.1 percent in 2021, supported by a modest rise in commodity prices and foreign direct investment as the region deepens its integration with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. However, the outlook remains highly uncertain as the region continues to grapple with negative spillovers from the euro area, Russia, and China through trade, commodity, and remittance channels. As a result, the downside scenario for Central Asia projects a 1.5 percent growth in 2021.

The pace of recovery also depends on the duration of the pandemic, the availability and distribution of a vaccine, global demand for commodities and the degree of improvement in global trade and investment.

In Kazakhstan, growth could recover to 2-3 percent in 2021and return to its pre-pandemic level by 2022. However, the economy remains vulnerable to the course of the pandemic that could affect businesses and restrain employment.

The Kyrgyz Republic is among the countries hard-hit by the pandemic. Growth is likely to rebound to 4.8 percent in 2021, assuming the pandemic is brought under control and external demand improves. Over the medium term, economic performance will continue to be vulnerable to developments in Russia and Kazakhstan – the country’s major trading partners.

Tajikistan is experiencing its slowest economic growth in two decades. Across sectors, hospitality and tourism experienced the deepest hit from the pandemic. Growth could improve to 3.7 percent in 2021. Risks to the outlook primarily depend on the progress in finding a vaccine or a cure for COVID-19 and the restoration of remittances and external trade.

The COVID-19 crisis in Uzbekistan has almost entirely extinguished GDP growth in 2020. Despite the setbacks, the country’s outlook remains positive as reforms continue to shift the economy towards greater resource efficiency and private sector growth. Assuming limited further lockdowns, an easing of the pandemic, and a broader global economic recovery, growth is projected between 4.8-5 percent in 2021.

A special analysis in the Europe and Central Asia Economic Update focuses on human capital, an area that requires serious attention of the governments given the severe impact of the pandemic on health and education. The report finds that improving access to and quality of tertiary education and reducing adult health risk factors, such as obesity, smoking and heavy drinking, are key for a resilient recovery in the countries of Europe and Central Asia. While the region’s countries provide relatively good basic education and health services, as measured by the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, more needs to be done for individuals and countries to succeed in the future.

The report reconfirms that COVID-19 has deeply strained already-weak health care systems in the Central Asia states. It also shows that across Central Asia, more than 16 percent of the population is obese, nearly 12 percent of people are heavy episodic drinkers, and almost 18 percent are current smokers. Prevalence of these risks increases not only the likelihood of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, but also the mortality and morbidity consequences of infectious diseases like COVID-19.

The pandemic has also adversely affected education and learning in Central Asia, threatening economic losses of $44 billion. School closures may lead to learning losses equivalent to one-third to one full year of schooling, and they are likely to exacerbate inequalities, by disproportionately affecting students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Central Asia, the gap in reading between students from the richest and the poorest households is expected to increase by between 8 and 30 percent. Given the demographic composition of Central Asia, where young people make up over half of the population, the current education crisis will have long-lasting negative consequences.

The World Bank cannot emphasize enough the need for Central Asian countries to focus on improving access to quality education for all students, as well as on recovering learning losses that threaten to keep an entire generation from achieving their potential,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for Central Asia region.

Good quality higher education is critical for people to remain competitive in fast-changing labor markets. Improving higher education in the Central Asian states would help them retain their high-skilled labor force in the face of sustained out-migration.

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Why Traders Should Never Miss Forex Trading Investment Opportunities

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Trading forex is a great opportunity to make money if you know how to do it right. Some of the top forex traders are often asked about tactics and tricks they use that have helped them to make great profits. Investment opportunities can be fully used only when you know how to turn such opportunities into profit.

What does it take to turn investment opportunities into trading profits? Here are some things which you can do to make a difference and have helped several people in making profits in the long run.

A Strong Trading Plan:

Ask any successful trader and you will be told that a trading plan is of utmost importance. One needs to plan quite systematically before trading or when one starts trading. This trading plan usually has a strategy which is followed with great caution. This trading strategy should also be tested, and adjustments made accordingly. If everything goes well, the strategy can be repeated whenever any opportunity comes along.

Managing Risk:

Capital management is an essential part of forex trading success. If any trader doesn’t know how to manage risks, the trader will not be able to make it long. No matter how lucrative the investment opportunities seem to be, a trader should not trade money which the person cannot afford to lose. It is extremely important to ensure that the risks are sensible because that will keep him going.

The Importance of Being a patient Trader:

If you wish to earn in the long run, you need to be patient. It does take time to develop any currency trading plan. It also takes time to develop different skills. Thus, any trader needs to wait for the right opportunities. If a trader hurries or rushes, the decision can be wrong which will affect trading.

The Mind has to be Clear:

Experts reveal that success and failure often depend on the mindset of the individual. If the trading psychology of the trader is not as it should be, profitability will become a distant dream. However, the sad part is that most traders do not consider this as a fundamental truth. There are many expert traders who do meditation or yoga so that they ensure that they have a healthy mind.

Disciplined Actions:

To be successful in any sphere of life, one needs to be disciplined and exercise caution. For a successful trading career, a trader should be consistent and should be learning regularly so that mistakes can be avoided. If a trader lacks discipline, it may lead to trading errors which will result in losses in the future.

Trading Journal Can Help:

There are many experts who suggest the use of trading journals. Such smart traders work as record keepers which helps them in future. For example, when they win a trade, they have everything recorded in the journal. Thus, they are aware how they are winning and why they are winning. Thus, this way they are aware of the strategies that can help them in winning trades and the strategies which can cause them losses.

If any trader can take note of all details such as different conditions for entry and exit, it helps in trades and targets.

Overtrading Can be Risky

At times traders are tempted to overtrade with the hope of making more profits. However, experts believe that overtrading should be avoided because it leads to trading mistakes and errors. Thus, traders need to ensure that they are patient and do not do things that will make it risky.

Thus, investment decisions should be made wisely and cautiously.

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Mongolia Shows Improvement in Management of Public Finances

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Mongolia’s management of public finances has improved, but further reforms are needed in some areas to achieve international best practice standards, a recent
World Bank assessment finds.

The recently completed Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA)report, which assessed the performance of Mongolia’s public financial management system against international benchmarks, concluded that Mongolia scored well in relation to access to public information, the budget preparation process, financial data integrity, and external audit.  In the application of international accounting standards, fiscal risk management, medium-term budgeting, and the use of performance evaluation to enhance government service delivery, further reforms are needed to enhance fiscal discipline, ensure resources are allocated as intended, and improve service delivery, the report found.   

“Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability assessment provides an excellent foundation for Mongolia to measure its progress in driving improvement in its public financial management,” said Andrei Mikhnev, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia. “The current report will also be used to assess the success of our current programs for supporting effective governance in Mongolia and in designing future programs.” 

The European Union and Mongolia have a long-term and broad partnership. The report demonstrates Mongolia’s willingness to further improve the management of its public finances,” said Ambassador-designate Axelle Nicaise, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Mongolia. “The EU will continue to assist Mongolia in its public financial management reform agenda, also with our budget support program”.

Mongolia has gradually undertaken reforms to strengthen fiscal discipline and the public financial management system, the report notes. The first phase of reforms between 2003 and 2008 established the basic elements of the system, including strengthening internal controls, cash management, and accounting and reporting. The second phase of reforms between 2008 and 2011 included improvements in fiscal policy, budget planning, and decentralization of roles and resources to subnational governments. More recently, Mongolia has been pursuing a number of initiatives to improve macro-fiscal management and government service delivery.

The report assesses reform progress over the last 5 years. Of the 31 indicators in the assessment framework, 12 indicators show improvement, 13 indicators are unchanged, and three have deteriorated.

The greatest gains since a 2015 assessment were in the areas of budget credibility, the predictability and control of budget execution, revenue administration processes, budget release processes, cash and debt recording, and payroll controls. Comprehensiveness and transparency, policy-based budgeting, accounting and reporting, and external scrutiny and audit were elements of public financial management that remained relatively consistent over time.

The World Bank congratulates the institutions involved in the progress made to enhance public finance governance.” said Alma Kanani, World Bank Governance Practice Manager for East Asia and the Pacific. “It is very good to see that the government’s continuous commitment to reforms is producing results.”

The assessment was made possible with financing from the EU-funded Strengthening Governance in Mongolia Project. The publication of the report coincides with a planned review and update of the public financial management reform strategy and action plan, and the assessment will provide an important input to the design of future reforms to further strengthen fiscal governance and public financial management.

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7 Business Lessons We Learned in 2021

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2020 was a year unlike any other. It saw the advent of the coronavirus pandemic that affected every nation on earth and plummeted the international economy. Several businesses crashed and had to depend on bailouts and loans. A lot of people lost their jobs, and countries went into recession.

Despite all that, company owners and entrepreneurs learned a lot of business lessons. The future of work changed permanently. Business practices and small business financing in the future will never be the same. 

1.      Remote work is the future

The pandemic brought out the usefulness, ease, and convenience of remote work. Several companies and government organizations embraced remote work, and it is fast becoming a norm. Even when lockdowns eased and the effects of the pandemic lessened, remote work was still a thing for several companies. Square, Twitter, and other companies have fully adopted remote work. Most workers mentioned that they preferred remote work compared to having come into physical offices. Hybrid models that combined both remote and physical work also emerged.  

As a company owner, this means that you can hire people from anywhere around the world for your business. You can hire people from third-world countries and still get premium service and the best of talents. This might cost you less than what you will spend for onsite physical hires. You’ll also save money on office space andsmall business financing. Your staff will save money on commute time and transport expenses. You only need to find the right tech tools like Slack, Calendly, and more.      

2.      Work meetings do not have to be physical

The pandemic massively boosted the popularity of online meetings. Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and other platforms became the official meeting channel of several companies, with Zoom being the biggest gainer.

“Mute your mic,” “Turn off your camera,” “Your mic is muted,” and other phrases became very popular. But once people got the hang of things, these meetings worked. Gone are the days of jumping on late-night flights and battling jet lag to attend business meetings across continents. Remote meetings work just fine.

With online meetings, you can better utilize your small business loans on other critical aspects of your business.     

3.      Diversify where possible

Several businesses suffered during the pandemic. The companies that were able to withstand the effects most were those that diversified. If diversification does not cause a strain on your resources or a loss of focus, go for it.

Before obtaining financial support for your small business, think of means by which you can perfectly utilize the money to expand your operation and diversify as needed.   

4.      Have business reserves and savings

A lot of businesses were forced to turn to their cash reserves after sales got hit by the pandemic. All ventures, from one-person businesses to giant corporations, were not spared. Companies had to be bailed out by the government and others had to apply for small business financing loans. The aviation, hospitality, and transportation sectors were the worst hit of all. Lots of workers were laid off, with companies losing talented staff that they had spent resources hiring, training, and onboarding.

Companiess now realize the extreme importance of having cash reserves and emergency backup savings.     

5.      Have a disaster relief plan in place

The fastest companies to recover from the effects of the pandemic were those that had a disaster relief plan in place. These companies were better equipped to deal with the disastrous effects of the pandemic. 

6.      Virtual workspaces will become a thing

Tech companies are now developing technology for virtual workspaces. These workspaces will include hardware and software that will foster closer connectivity among employees in remote locations. 5G, virtual reality headsets, AI-powered assistants, IoT, and other emerging technology will make this a reality. 

During the pandemic, companies like Duolingo held virtual office hangouts, cooking classes, movie nights, and more extracurricular activities using virtual technology.     

7.      Future businesses should have an agile culture  

2020 taught us that work should have an agile, flexible culture, and they must be willing to adapt to changes as fast as possible. Companies with an agile culture were the fastest to adapt to the pandemic. Flexibility allows an organization to be better prepared for crises and unexpected circumstances.  

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