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INFORMATION DIGEST No. 137

July 14, 2017

POLITICS
On July 12, 2017, the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev made a report at a video-selector meeting in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis

On July 12, 2017, a videoconference was held at the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was devoted to the analysis of activities of parliament chambers, political parties, the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan, regional, district and city Kengashes of people’s deputies and tasks for the future.

The meeting was attended by deputies of the Legislative Chamber and members of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis, members of the government, representatives of political parties and public organizations. Members of the Jokargy Kenes of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional, Tashkent city, district and city Kengashes of people’s deputies, heads of local governing bodies and representatives of public attended the meeting through a videoconference.

The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev delivered a report at the meeting.

As the head of our state noted, the process of further liberalization and reforming of all spheres of society are consistently continuing in our country. Actual problems, no matter what sphere or branch they concern, are openly discussed and solved with participation of the population. All decisions are made taking into account opinions, requests and appeals of our people.

The order of representation by the state governing bodies, including economic, banking and financial spheres, public services, internal affairs, education, healthcare, judicial and legal system of reports and information in parliament and local Kengashes is introduced.

It was noted that in this process a very important and responsible role is played by political parties and parliament.

The President of our country emphasized that today there is great confidence in representatives of political parties and members of parliament, they are appointed to responsible positions.

At the same time, time itself requires representatives of political parties, deputies and senators to be not only participants of large-scale reforms implemented in our country, but also their initiators and main executors.

At the meeting, along with the achieved success, activities of representative governing bodies, political parties and the Ecological movement over the past period have been critically analyzed, important tasks have been identified on further deepening of reforms.

The President emphasized that today, political parties have not achieved full and effective fulfillment of promises given to their electorate, their pre-electoral programs, still could not take a firm place in socio-political life of the country. There are no concrete proposals and initiatives on implementation of priority goals and objectives in the activities of political parties and factions in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis.

The People’s democratic party, which acts as a defender of the interests of pensioners and low-income strata of the population, does not come up with deeply thought out initiatives on raising their living standards, strengthening their social activity, supporting participation of these categories of the population in taking public control over the activities of state bodies.

The Democratic party “Milliy tiklanish” aims to revive, further enrich the national heritage, values and develop tourism. However, it does not show sufficient activity in improving the relevant legislation, taking control over implementation of laws.

The Social democratic party “Adolat” acts for ensuring social justice, protecting the interests of the population in the spheres of science, education and healthcare. In fact, the party does not show initiative in affirming the rule of law and justice in society, improving medical services and providing the population with medicines.

The Movement of entrepreneurs and businessmen – the Liberal democratic party of Uzbekistan, considered as the leading political force in our country, also does not meet the requirements of the electorate.

Any political party can be considered a political force only when it is in step with the times, able to meet tough demands of today, said Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

In the programs of the parties, their tasks and activities, interaction with ministries and departments are specified. However, parties do not exercise effective parliamentary and deputy control over the activities of relevant ministries and departments through their factions and groups in representative governing bodies. Each political party must, in accordance with its program tasks, specify the ministries and departments under control, conduct systematic work with them.

Many decrees and resolutions were adopted within the framework of implementation of the Action strategy on further development of our country in 2017-2021. These important documents define measures on addressing current problems reflected in the programs of political parties and raised by them during the electoral campaign on elections. Despite this, political parties are not active in ensuring implementation of these measures.

This means that political parties, having studied world experience and strengthening international cooperation, need to review their program goals and tasks, work in ideological direction, introduce necessary amendments and additions to their programs, said the head of our state.

At the meeting, activities of political parties on conducting dialogue with people, awareness-raising activities and cooperation with the mass media were critically analyzed. It was noted that insufficient work is being held on finding practical solutions to current problems that worry the parties’ electorate. Most of the appeals received from the population in the party, their advice at places is not considered, but redirected to the Virtual reception of the President.

It is impossible to consider activities of political parties on working with youth, functioning under the parties of “Youth wings”, as satisfactory. Political parties are not paying any attention to working with unorganized youth, that is, unemployed, not studying, or those who are not engaged in any kinds of activities.

The work carried out in political parties on creating a personnel reserve, improving qualifications of workers, nominating party activists for public service also does not meet the requirements, which seriously affects their activities.

The President of our country drew attention to the necessity of organizing special courses for training workers of party organizations at places and deputies of local Kengashes on the basis of higher educational institutions of each region.

It was noted that in many cases, regional councils of political parties do not have sufficient material and technical resources. For example, 18 district councils of the parties do not have their own buildings, 62 council buildings are in unsatisfactory condition. In this regard, the Cabinet of Ministers was instructed to critically examine the state of material and technical support of the parties and make appropriate proposals.

Activities of the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan were also considered at the meeting. It was noted that the movement should pay constant attention to issues of providing population with drinking water, especially in rural areas, collecting, processing and recycling household waste.

The Ecological movement should become even more proactive in improving ecological culture of the population. The President of our country forwarded a proposal, according to which representatives of the Ecological movement should act at all large enterprises of our country.

The head of our state emphasized that it is necessary to introduce an effective system of discussing draft laws with participation of the population. It is advisable to introduce an order according to which draft laws that are of great importance for the life of the country, after being adopted in the first reading would be widely discussed at places with participation of citizens, then improved taking into account their proposals and opinions and introduced to the second reading.

At the meeting, the need was emphasized for establishment of a structure in the Oliy Majlis that deals with scientific-practical research and information-analytical work, development of draft laws. It was proposed to organize an Institute on studying problems of the legislation under the Oliy Majlis, taking into account international best practices.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted the need for unconditional implementation of programs of the Oliy Majlis on parliamentary control over the activities of the state governing bodies, implementation of adopted laws and state programs of important socio-political and economic significance. Cases of violation of the order and timing of consideration of deputy requests were particularly emphasized. Any official impeding implementation of powers by a deputy will be responsible before the law.

Importance of introduction of a “government hour” institution in the Legislative Chamber on the basis of developed countries’ experience, was noted.

Deputies and senators, representatives of political parties expressed their gratitude to the head of our state for the attention, and noted implementation of actual tasks that are indicated in the report as the duty of the entire deputy corps.
(Source: UzA)

ECONOMY
Uzpakhtasanoatexport Holding Company has scheduled several investment projects in the next few years to bring the country’s cotton industry to a new level

The objectives of the Action Strategy along Five Priority Areas in 2017-2021, initiated by the head of state, underlie the abovementioned initiatives.

Specific measures on the implementation of the main thrusts of the Strategy have been taken within the framework of the Cotton Industry Development Concept in Uzbekistan. The document has defined system indicators of the industry's capacity on 16 basic directions, set target goals to increase its returns to the economy, upgrade industry enterprises, ensure localization and import substitution of previously imported products, and actively attract foreign investments.

The cotton industry of the republic has managed to make certain progress over the short period of time since the establishment of the company. In particular, the Uzbek cotton has strengthened its positions in traditional outlets, and has opened up new markets in Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam. The holding company has joined the International Cotton Association, the Bremen Cotton Exchange, and other cotton associations and stock exchanges.

Owing to the measures on streamlining of the raw cotton procurement system and optimization of machinery and primary cotton processing technology in 2016, the total share of high fiber grades ‘Oliy’ and ‘Yakhshi’ was 92% of the total volume of cotton fiber, which is 10% higher YOY. More than 99% of the total volume of fiber produced ranges between 3.5 and 4.9 points of the micronaire index, as acceptable by international requirements. The range of the fiber length has expanded. Thus, the share of fiber code 37 increased in the 2016 season from 21% to 23%, and type 4 fibers accounted for 85%.

Implementation of technical extension programs in the oil and fat industry and introduction of differentiated grade acceptance systems into processing of technical cotton seeds has improved quality of seeds and increased the yield of crude oil. Quality of technical cotton seeds has been tending to improve. For instance, the share of the best quality first-grade seeds of the higher class was 76.4% in 2016, which is more than 10% higher YOY. The quality of cottonseed oil has fundamentally improved, and its color was ensured at the standard of five red units, which corresponds to the world's leading standards. The manufacture of packaged vegetable oils has increased. An increase in oil output by 1.3% brought an additional profit of 10 billion soums (currency rates of CB RU from 14.07.2017, 1$= 4014.50 soums).

The company attaches a great deal of importance to the introduction of modern information and communication technologies into production processes. The establishment of Monitoring Centers and introduction of an integrated information system of computerized accounting of preparation and sowing of cottonseed and other oilseeds, their sorting, as well as implementation of scheduled agrotechnological operations have already been completed. Accounting covers more than 50,000 farms engaged in the cultivation of cotton and oilseeds.

Monitoring programs for processing raw cotton and preparation of cotton seeds for sowing were introduced to sustain financial accounting and reporting, staff management, prompt control over the production and technology workflow. Similar systems of obtaining prompt online data were introduced into technological processes of cotton plants, oil mills, as well as at cotton terminals.

The procedure of acceptance of raw cotton at harvesting stations has changed since the harvesting season of 2016. Advantages of information and communication technologies have allowed organizing the acceptance of raw cotton from farmers with automatic weight fixing and instrumental measurement of quality indicators for each individual lot. The register of mandatory procedures now includes specialized labeling of raw cotton, depending on the type of collection - manual or machine. Aiming to increase the competitiveness and liquidity of Uzbek cotton fiber in the world market, the company teamed up with the International Finance Corporation and launched a pilot project on the introduction of the standard of sustainable development of cotton growing in Ferghana and Jizzakh regions of the republic, based on the BCI principles (Better Cotton Initiative).

Well-equipped laboratories were established at each Uzpakhtaexport terminal as part of practical improvement of quality control system and amount of cotton fiber to be shipped. Another subdivision, Uzpakhtayogh holding company, established a Technical Seed Quality Surveillance Center Sifat-Chigit to ensure control over seed production, quality, safety and rational use in cotton ginneries, as well as measures on assessment and improvement of cottonseed oil quality.

All 98 cotton mills, 23 oil and fat factories, 21 cotton terminals in the cotton industry undergo modernization, overhaul, reconstruction and technical extension. Research, academic, design and engineering organizations and machine-building enterprises of Uzbekistan are actively involved in the development of equipment complexes of new generation. The Investment Program for 2017 envisages the implementation of 34 projects with estimated $27.2 million of investments.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

OFFICIALLY
The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev has approved a program of measures on the establishment of up-to-date production of children's accessories and toys in Tashkent

The new production cluster will be created on the basis of the former Tashigrushka plant with an area of more than 12,000 square meters. The territory has been idle for a long time; most of the production lines and infrastructure have become completely unusable and do not function.

The head of state assigned to transfer the facility to the National Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs, namely to its management company NBU Investment at a cost determined by the appraisal company, under the condition of attracting investments and organizing a manufacture of children's accessories and toys.

It is expected that the Tashigrushka plant will host various enterprises with the participation interest of NBU and other investors. In the future, the National Bank may sell its shares in those companies for currency.

By March 1, 2018, the management company should attract investment and organize the production of high-quality state-of-the-art domestic children's accessories and toys, oriented to both domestic and foreign markets.

It will also be responsible for the preservation and rational use of the facility, loading of production capacities, sustainable financial and economic operations of the enterprises, which will be established on the basis of the facility until they are sold to new investors.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev provided investors with a broad range of benefits. The enterprises on the basis of the Tashigrushka plant will be exempt from income tax, single tax payment, property tax, land tax until they are sold to a strategic investor.

However, the privileges will be valid for three years from the moment of their state registration, and all released funds should be compulsorily channeled for technical and technological extension, modernization and development of production.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

In Uzbekistan Fund for stabilization of prices in domestic market established

The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a Decree "On urgent measures for reliable maintenance of the population of the Republic with main types of socially important food products".

The document was adopted in order to meet the growing demand of the population for the main types of socially important food products, the strengthening of its purchasing power, preventing the formation of factors leading to higher prices, inflation expectations and lower real incomes.

The decree established a National commission for monitoring and control of prices of basic socially significant food products, headed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan N.Aripov.

The document instructed to set up a special Fund, the main goal of which will be the stabilization of prices in the domestic consumer market. The Fund is set to be formed at the expense of resources of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan in an amount equivalent to $100mn.
(Source: UzReport.uz)

INVESTMENTS
A new cement plant Karakalpak Cement has been commissioned in the Karauzyak district of Karakalpakstan

The project will be implemented in three stages. Its total value exceeds $40 million. $17 million of investment was disbursed at the first stage, which has been fully completed to date. The second stage will be carried out by the end of the current year. The enterprise has already provided employment for more than 200 people.

To date, the plant’s total capacity makes up 1.2 million tons of cement per year. Meanwhile, it is expected that by the end of the year it will double, and increase for another 700,000 tons per year by the end of 2018. In the first two stages, the products will be produced to a new technology of vertical furnace. The third stage envisages the introduction of advanced production line with a rotary kiln.

The plant intends to establish exports to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and other countries.

The construction of the plant is stipulated by a Program of Measures on Structural Transformation, Modernization and Diversification of Production for 2015-2019, which provides for the implementation of 846 investment projects totaling over $40.8 billion.

Today, the bulk of cement production in Uzbekistan is distributed among five operating plants: Kyzylkumcement, Ahangarancement, Kuvasaycement, Bekabadcement and Jizzakh Cement Plant.

The construction of the plant in the Sherabad district of the Surkhandarya region has been in progress. It is estimated to produce 1.5 million tons of Portland cement per year. Eurocement company, another major player in the market of Uzbekistan, is planning to build a new cement plant on the basis of its asset Ahangarancement. It will produce cement by a ‘dry’ method at a capacity of 2.4 million tons per year.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

EDUCATION
Uzbekistan: A Land of Professionals

Very soon, Uzbekistan promises to grow into a country where absolutely any citizen, if asked about his/her profession, will give a specific answer. At the same time, in most cases, the respondents will name even several vocations they had got during their studies. Perhaps, Uzbekistan is going to be the only state that provides vocational education on a free basis. This is one of the main outputs of recent decisions made by the government to streamline the education system and ensure employment.

Summer is traditionally the time of the youth. Undivided attention is focused on the youth and on the solution of their urgent problems. It so happened because it is a time to arrange young people’s recreation, enrollment at the first grade or course. This summer has turned out to be unusually hot, as the government takes decision by decision to streamline education, with the focus on vocational education, making it more accessible.

Since the first years of independence, Uzbekistan has been paying close attention to the development of the education system. The laws ‘On Education’ and ‘On the National Staff Training Program’ were adopted. The creation of a system that allows everyone to get a vocation or specialty in line with the principle ‘Education throughout the Life’ ranks among the most significant achievements in this area. To make the system working, a network of institutions included almost 5,000 pre-school educational institutions, 9,000 general education schools, thousands of vocational colleges and academic lyceums, 70 universities, advanced training centers, and a system of scientific and pedagogical staff training.

Meanwhile, experts permanently seek for optimal options, the correctness of which is proved in practice.

The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev also prioritizes the development of education. The entire education system, the performance of its institutions, the organization and content of the educational process has been reviewed this year from the standpoint of the needs of the state and, above all, of the people. The most ambitious changes occur in the part of training qualified specialists.

The preschool education program was adopted to increase by 2.5 times the number of children attending nursery schools by 2021, supply all the parents whose children do not attend nursery schools with methodological aids that will help prepare their children for school. New state educational standards have laid modern approaches to schooling. Now, the educational process is aimed primarily at the cultivation of skills of independent creative practicing of the theory in students, which is very important for any specialist.

Meanwhile, one of the pressing issues of ten or eleven grade school education was put for the public discussion. Shavkat Mirziyoyev proposed a new form of eleven-grade school education, following which a graduate will get a document confirming his vocation. According to the results of the survey, it was decided to introduce an eleven-grade school education in the country. By the end of the ninth grade, every schoolboy, along with his parents, is entitled to choose the place to continue his or her education: a school, a college or an academic lyceum. Schools will provide the vocations the learning of which does not require specific conditions, which apply, for example, to vocations in healthcare system, engineering, mining. Such specialties can still be obtained solely in vocational colleges.

It is worth to mention another important decision, which promotes the strengthening of the principle that every young person should get a vocation or specialty. The government approved a resolution that graduates of academic lyceums will be assigned a specialty and vocation. The students will learn marketable vocations, which will help them to get employed in case if they fail to enter a university. The list of vocations popular among employers includes a database operator, an expert in processing, digitizing and storing electronic documents, a technician programmer, a technician system administrator, a laboratory assistant (by disciplines), an engineering chemist, an archivist, clerk, travel agent and others.

Moreover, the vocational education has been getting even more accessible. All the buildings of vocational colleges that were released due to the transition to eleven-grade education were transferred to the Council of Youth for the establishment of Youth Centers in them. Vocational training will rank among the areas of their activities. Every visitor will be able to get a marketable vocation or specialty at six month courses free of charge.

It is obvious how the popularity of higher education has grown among young people over the past few years. It is proved by the fact that last year, the number of documents submitted to universities exceeded the total quota of admission by seven times! This year, the government has taken certain measures that will help the bigger number of entrants to get higher education. The total quota of admission to higher educational institutions has been increased by more than 8,000 seats! Higher education institutions will receive more than 66,000 freshmen. The volunteers will be offered to get higher education on the terms of contracting at higher contract rates.

At the same time, traditionally before the start of receiving applications by higher education institutions, the Ministry of Economy, jointly with the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education, revised the admission quotas in the context of education and undergraduate specialties, with an eye to the prospects of development of economic sectors, and wishes of young people.

As a result, two new universities have appeared on the country’s map, both in the Surkhandarya region, where only the Termez State University has been operating by the present time. The branches of Islam Karimov Tashkent State Technical University and Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Mechanization of Agriculture will work in the region as of 2017.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan is building a fundamentally new network of vocational education institutions to support the unemployed.

There is a certain practice of the establishment and successful operation of such centers in Tashkent and Samarkand. They were opened with the support of the Korean International Cooperation Agency KOICA. Another similar center will be commissioned this year in Shahrisabz, to be followed by the Ferghana Valley and Khorezm region in 2018 and 2019. According to a specific program of measures, vocational training centers for unemployed citizens will be gradually established in all regions of the country, bringing their total capacity to 20-25,000 retrained unemployed per year.

There is a fundamental innovation in the sector. Along with the regional vocational training centers that will operate within the system of the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations, it is planned to establish nongovernmental educational institutions on professional staff retraining, which will work on a commercial basis with the preliminary compilation of a register of active private educational institutions and an inventory of their capacity for professional staff retraining. A draft government decision on their establishment is ready. They are expected to raise the efficiency of targeted staff training with subsequent employment.

This all suggests that very soon, Uzbekistan will turn into a unique country, every citizen of which has a background in a specialty and a vocation. At the same time, it is important to effectively manage this potential, not to lose it and channel it for the benefit of the country.

In this context, it is worth to mention the scaled work on the formation of the system of employment of graduates of educational institutions. Large scale initiatives have been undertaken in this area in recent months to eliminate the existing gaps.

The government has adopted a package of measures to encourage employers to provide school students with places for practical training and employ college and university graduates with due responsibility.

The enterprises that employ graduates are subject to various privileges and preferences, along with the mechanism of quadripartite agreements. When microfirms and small enterprises make labor contracts with graduates of vocational colleges, academic lyceums and higher educational institutions, the maximum norm of the average annual number of employed workers increases by 50%, with retained privileges, guarantees and rights for microfirms and small enterprises. The graduates who have passed state registration as individual entrepreneurs are released from tax payments for a period of six months.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations has launched a college.mehnat.uz system to monitor the employment of graduates of vocational colleges in 2017. Data on graduates from the entire country, including taxpayer identification number (TIN) and the individual accumulative pension account (IAPA) is entered into the system, after which the system analyzes their employment. Almost all graduates have been registered in the system, nearly 456,000 of them this year. The system will help to reveal the facts of their unemployment and take additional measures to address their problems.

Job fairs are seen as an effective form of assistance in employment of college and university graduates. What is new with them is that they now provide the participants with the opportunity to demonstrate their potential employers the skills they had acquired during their studies. Organizers of job fairs allocate the sites, where the participants present various tools, equipment and machinery, where they can demonstrate such skills as bricklaying, painting, welding, installation of sanitary ware, manufacture of handicrafts, repair of electrical appliances and others.

Much attention has been paid to the involvement of graduates in entrepreneurial activities.

For this purpose, the current curricular of colleges and lyceums have been supplemented with two types of training courses, which explain in an accessible way how one can become an entrepreneur, effectively using all the resources provided by the state in support of startup businessmen. There is a specialized portal ‘Create Your Own Business’ in the Internet, which exemplifies the business projects that were previously approved and financed by banks, success stories of those who have chosen this path. Video aids on the establishment of private business in real conditions were produced and distributed. By specific examples, they help a graduate to shape his own business idea.

Another measure of support comes to motivation of graduates to start their own business. In particular, on June 5-16, start-up weeks have been held in all regions of the country to provide employment, involve graduates of higher and secondary specialized vocational education institutions in business and support them. The events created all necessary conditions for implementation of innovative ideas and successful start of business.

As part of the new ‘Business Angels’ system, promising and financially successful entrepreneurs select the most interesting business ideas and projects proposed by college and lyceum graduates and take full responsibility for their implementation by direct financing, issuing sureties and guarantees, pledging their property for bank loans, providing other assistance and support for young entrepreneurs in the development of their business.

A new scheme of micro lending for startup businessmen, which has been piloted in Tashkent, is an effective incentive for graduates as it provides preferential conditions for them. Involvement of graduates of educational institutions in entrepreneurial activity has a multiplicative effect on addressing employment problems: as shown by the experience of previous years, a startup businessman employs an average of two people, most often his peers.

The Presidential Decree of May 24, 2017 ‘On measures to further streamline the state employment policy and radically raise the effectiveness of performance of labor authorities’ and the resolution on organization of activities of the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations stipulate fundamentally new tools to assist graduates in employment. Firstly, as of January 1, 2018, the established rate of unified social payment for first-time employed graduates of colleges, lyceums and universities in the private sector will be reduced. It will be reduced by 50% in the first year after their employment, and by 25% during the second and third years of their work. Secondly, aiming to prevent the facts of fraud employment record of college graduates, they are issued a TIN (taxpayer individual number) after they receive a passport.

Monitoring of receipts of social insurance contributions by TIN would accurately reveal whether the graduate was employed, and take measures accordingly.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

Reference to the source is a must in reproducing materials.