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INFORMATION DIGEST No. 43

March 1, 2017

INVESTMENT
Several promising projects on the production of herb-based medical drugs are underway in Jizzakh region

Zomin Pharm, a manufacturer of medicines, has embarked on a new project worth 7.4 billion soums (currency rates of CB RU from 01.03.2017, 1$= 3404.35 soums). The production of 5 million vials of antibiotics and vaccination goods per year, as well as processing of medicinal herbs like saiga grass, licorice, chamomile, peppermint was launched at the first phase.

Besides, equipped with advanced tools, the company effectively runs production and bottling lines for liquid medicines, a laboratory. Finished products are stored in a specially equipped warehouse.

The second phase of the project is scheduled for this March to pave the way for the establishment of production of 6 million bottles of liquid drugs and three kinds of tablets. The company is concurrently actively works on organization of exports. In particular, discussions are underway with customers from Belarus.

“Our company is equipped with latest technologies on the production of environmentally-friendly medicines. This is a major prerequisite for entering the world market. The company currently employs 37 people. With the start of the second production line, the number of employees will reach 150,” said Hurshid Abduvaliyev, CEO of Zomin Pharm.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

FINANCE
2016 year the number of bank card transactions exceeded 1 billion in Uzbekistan, with 81 percent increase from 561.8 million transactions in 2015

The aggregate amount of transactions in 2016 was 53.3 trillion soums (currency rates of CB RU from 01.03.2017, 1$= 3404.35 soums) with 74 percent increase YOY (30.7 billion soums in 2015), reported the press service of the Unified National Processing Center.

Today, payment cards in Uzbekistan work in online and offline mode. The number of online cards is boosting: almost all domestic banks emit online plastic cards, so the old offline cards will be eventually withdrawn. To date, the commercial banks of the republic have issued over 11 million cards of Uzcard EMV system.

In 2016, the volume of cashless online card payments in the country totaled 48.30 trillion soums, which is 119% more than in 2015 (22.04 trillion soums). Analysis has shown that the amount of offline card transactions amounted to 5.01 trillion soums in 2016, which is 42% less than in 2015 (8.63 trillion soums).

The aggregates of e-commerce show that in 2016, some domestic commercial banks gradually released their own e-commerce products for the domestic market. Residents of Uzbekistan have been increasingly making online payments through mobile devices.

The e-commerce demonstrated a steady growth in 2016. Experts say that online business made a big leap last year, against 2015. For example, in 2016, the number of transactions in this segment amounted to 155.3 million, or 90% more than in 2015 with 81.8 million transactions.

Meanwhile, the Unified National Processing Center aims at constant expansion of the service list. Works are underway to introduce the overdraft function for card accounts, when the bank allows a cardholder to go into a negative balance, and then recuperate it. In addition, the Center intends to ensure the provision of processing international payment cards of VISA, MasterCard, Union Pay International systems.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

FREE ECONOMIC ZONE
Free Economic Zone “Jizzakh”

Free economic zone “Jizzakh” with the affiliate in Syrdarya region of Syrdarya area has been established in accordance with the Decree of the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. 4516 dated March 18, 2013.

In the territory of FEZ “Jizzakh” 20 projects with the total amount of investments 106 million USD have been implemented with the participation of foreign companies.

“PengSheng” Joint Venture established in 2009 with the participation of the Association “Uzbekcharmpoyabzali” and Chinese company “Wenzhou Jinsheng Trade” carries out the production of ceramic tiles and leather shoes. The total cost of the project made up 26.2 million USD with the annual production capacity of 4.0 million sq.m of ceramic tiles, processing of 600 thousand fells and production of 300 thousand pairs of leather shoes. Currently 800 workers work at the enterprise.

“PengzhongXingsheng” Joint Venture established in 2013 with the participation of the Association “Uzbekcharmpoyabzali” and Chinese company “ZTE (Н.К.) Limited” carries out the production of mobile phones. The total cost of the project made up 3.2 million USD with the annual production capacity of 100 thousand units. Currently 50 workers work at the enterprise.

Joint venture “Peng Sheng Casing” established in 2013 with the participation of the Association “Uzbekcharmpoyabzali” and Chinese company “Wenzhou Jinsheng Trade” carries out the processing of animal products. The total cost of the project made up 1,4 million USD with the annual production capacity of 1 thousand tons. Currently 100 workers work at the enterprise.

Joint venture “Peng Sheng Feed” established in 2013 with the participation of the Association “Uzbekcharmpoyabzali” and Chinese company “Wenzhou Jinsheng Trade” carries out the production of forages for domestic animals and poultry. The total cost of the project made up 1.0 million USD with the annual production capacity of 1 thousand tons. Currently 100 workers work at the enterprise.

Joint venture “QuyoshIssiqlikEnergiyasi” established in 2014 with the participation of “Uzbekenergo” SJSC and Chinese company “Hangzhou Zhongwu Electronic Meters Co. Ltd” carries out the production of solar water heating systems (collectors). The total cost of the project made up 2.5 million USD with the annual production capacity of 50 thousand pieces. Currently 60 workers work at the enterprise.

Joint venture “AWP” established in 2014 with the participation of JSC “AGMK” and Chinese company “Wenzhou Jinsheng Trade” carries out the production of sanitary ware items. The total cost of the project made up 7.5 million USD with the annual production capacity of 1.2 million pieces. Currently 100 workers work at the enterprise.
(Source: “Uzbekistan profile” - Information bulletin of Embassy of Uzbekistan in Belgium)

SOCIETY
Helping to Boost Employment

Issues related to the employment of the population, especially young people, have been identified as one of the most important in the recently adopted Action Strategy along Five Priority Development Areas in the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017-2021. It has been stressed again at a forum organized by Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Labor and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in the framework of a project to set up a vocational training center in the city of Shahrisabz and counsel on capacity-building of training centers in Uzbekistan.

At its core, the new center will help further the objectives outlined in the Action Strategy in terms of perfecting the employment system. It is expected to enable the temporarily unemployed people to go through retraining and eventual employment.

The Labor Minister Aziz Abduhakimov praised the positive results being produced by the mutually advantageous strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea, consolidation of friendly relations between our two nations, noting a special and significant place of joint projects implemented for the development of our country's economy. For the purposes of training and retraining of unemployed workforce, including graduates of educational institutions, on modern professions in demand in the labor market, the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Uzbekistan jointly with the Korea International Cooperation Agency has successfully implemented the project "Development of vocational training opportunities in Uzbekistan", which envisages, among other schemes, the establishment of a professional training center in Shahrisabz, Kashkadarya region.

The existing vocational training centers in Tashkent and Samarkand, since their inception, have provided about 3 thousand jobless people with professional training, who then have successfully found the vacancies that suit their novel professions.

The centers provide training and retraining of specialists in demand in the labor market along four main areas: diagnostics, repair and maintenance of automobiles; technologies of engineering production and welding; electronics and electrical engineering; information systems and technologies.

The originality of vocational guidance and retraining in these venues is in that the training programs and syllabi were developed in a completely new quality, taking into account the best international practices and based on the requirements of state educational standards.

The selection of teachers and masters of industrial training for centers was conducted from among the eminent professors of universities and institutions of secondary special and professional education with the participation of distinguished faculty from leading technical universities of the Republic of Korea. Another feature of the organization of their work lies in the fact that some of the selected instructors and coaches are trained at the Korea University of Vocational Training and Technologies.

Crucially, with finishing the training at this center, graduates will be employed in accordance with the acquired specialty under preliminary contracts signed with potential employers.

KOICA’s close cooperation with the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Uzbekistan is not limited to the creation of the aforementioned facility. In accordance with the intergovernmental agreement they have embarked on efforts to organize vocational training centers also in Urgench and Kokand.

Also under implementation is a project equally important for the economic development of our country, namely, consulting services designed to strengthen the capacity of vocational training in the country, which includes the elaboration of proposals and realization of qualification certification system in Uzbekistan, improving the efficiency of labor market regulation based on the Korean experience in the creation of public and private vocational training system.

The scheme envisages the creation of a professional guidance system for economic growth and capacity building in the field of management training system. Its peculiarity is that it is focused on the possibilities of local consultants – experts of vocational training in Uzbekistan to develop the necessary legal acts in the vocational training sphere, management plans for centers, as well as a national qualification standard (NQS).
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

THE STRATEGY OF ACTIONS ON FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF UZBEKISTAN
Roadmap for Modernization

The Action Strategy along Five Priority Development Areas in the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017-2021 has been acknowledged by the Uzbek society with great enthusiasm. The underlying paper specifies the milestones to be achieved by the nation in the next five years, along with mechanisms to raise living standards.

The policy document is built on the provisions related to the protection and promotion of human interests. The key dimensions were put forward by Shavkat Mirziyoyev in his recent electoral program and in his speeches delivered at the festive meeting on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, at the joint session of both houses of the Oliy Majlis and the extended meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

The Action Strategy is carried out in five stages, each of which provides for the elaboration and approval of a separate annual state program and its implementation in accordance with the declared title of the year. To this end, the State Program on the Implementation of the Action Strategy in the Year of Dialogue with People and Human Interests has been stamped on this basis.

The Strategy has defined five priority areas of development. They include the improvement of state and nation building, provision for the rule of law and further reformation of the judicial system, promotion and liberalization of the economy, social development, security, interethnic harmony and religious tolerance, implementation of balanced and constructive foreign policy.

The pillars are aimed at radical enhancement in the effectiveness of reforms, at the delivery of an environment conducive for integrated, harmonious and swift advancement of the country and civil society, modernization and liberalization of all areas of life.

Improvement of state and nation building ranks among the principal priorities of development in Uzbekistan. It implies taking specific steps to further strengthen the role of parliament and political parties in the enhancement of democratic reforms and modernization of public life. Namely, the representative bodies create a robust and effectual legal platform for the successful solution of strategic tasks, since building a democratic state with high priority placed on human rights, freedoms, honor and dignity is seen as a primary goal in Uzbekistan.

Drastic improvement in the quality of legislative work, consolidation of the significance and role of the leading political forces in the life of the nation is the most important factor in implementation of the Action Strategy in the next five years, in the delivery of favorable conditions for the country's development and modernization in the long run.

In 2017, in accordance with objectives of the Strategy, both houses of the Oliy Majlis will work on 50 bills, 18 of which are new laws, and more than 30 are the legal acts that introduce amendments and addenda to the legislation aiming to improve relations in all spheres of life of the people.
In particular, it is stipulated to develop 17 draft laws in the state and public construction, 18 bills in the judicial sector, 7 bills will relate to the liberalization of the economy, 4 bills in the social sector, and 3 bills with regard to foreign policy. As instructed by the President, the current year’s state program includes drafting of the national program on improvement of legal culture in society.

As previously reported, the Law ‘On parliamentary control’ was adopted in April 2016. It secured clear mechanisms, forms and methods of its implementation. The new forms included a parliamentary inquiry, requests by senators and deputies, functions of the Senate Commission for Control over Prosecutor Bodies, which was initiated by the houses of parliament, among other initiatives.

At the same time, committed to its goals, objectives and principles, the parliamentary control should continuously evolve in line with changes in the society. The Year of Dialogue with the People and Human Interests spotlights the creation of such mechanisms of parliamentary control as the study of the situation on the ground, an open and trustful dialogue with the people. The ten-day long trips of senators and deputies around the country, face to face meetings with the population in February have proved the effectiveness of this approach and allowed to see how one or another law can be practically applied with respect to each individual family, resident of the region, to reveal the causes of the problems.

In December 2016, the upper house of parliament established the Committee on International Relations, Foreign Economic Relations, Foreign Investment and Tourism on the basis of the Committee for Foreign Policy in order to further strengthen the role of Parliament in the implementation of foreign policy on protection and promotion of national interests on the world stage, expansion of international economic cooperation, attraction of foreign investments and modern technologies in the regions of the country, development of tourism, strengthening of the country's international image, and strengthening of parliamentary control in this field. Its structure and powers have been expanded, the post of the First Deputy Chairman of the Senate was introduced to coordinate the implementation of related programs and business plans.

In view of that, the Parliament has an additional function for the current year to introduce amendments and addenda to the constitutional laws ‘On the Senate of Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan’ and ‘On the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan’, as well as to regulations of the chambers on their implementation in the international law on the state's foreign policy. Certain measures will be taken to streamline the legal mechanism of the organization of inter-parliamentary co-operation groups, thereby expanding opportunities of the Uzbek parliamentary diplomacy in the implementation of national interests.

The main idea of the Year of Dialogue with the People and Human Interests comes primarily to the establishment of effective feedback of the state and society, ensuring transparency of public authorities and administration. The routine work of representative bodies, namely the Legislative Chamber and Senate of Oliy Majlis, should be optimally transparent, because, being volitionally elected by the people; representatives have to be accountable to them.

Measures on enhancement of the role of political parties in the state and public construction will be taken as part of the Action Strategy. It is planned to introduce amendments to the law ‘On political parties’, which extend the rights and powers of the parliamentary groups of political parties in Councils of people’s representatives in terms of strengthening control over local authorities. Party groups will be able to submit proposals for consideration of socio-economic development of districts at sessions of the local councils, proposals for hearing reports of executives of local authorities, as well as of unsatisfactory performance of executive authorities. Specialists are also working on the development of a mechanism of consulting with party groups on the nomination of municipal and local governors with consideration by the regional Council of People’s Representatives.

The Action Strategy stipulates the expansion of guarantees for reliable protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms, expansion of their access to justice, effectiveness and quality of court proceedings as key vectors of reforms in the judicial sector.

The Presidential Decree on measures to radically improve the structure and efficiency of the judicial system in the Republic of Uzbekistan, signed 21 February 2017, was an important step in the implementation of outlined objectives, which marked the transition of the related state policy to a drastically new level.

The Supreme Judicial Council of the Republic of Uzbekistan was instituted in pursuance of the document in order to radically change the system of selection and appointment of judges, raise the status and powers of the body in charge for the formation of highly qualified judge corps.

As part of the judicial community, the Council is called to ensure compliance with the constitutional principle of judiciary independence. It is assigned with the formation of the judiciary on the basis open, transparent and competitive selection of candidates from among the most qualified experts, with the adoption of measures on preventing the violation of the integrity of judges and interference in their activity when it comes to justice and dialogue with the public.

The Supreme Judicial Council was delegated with the power of assignment for the post and dismissal of judges, except for judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Military Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, courts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and Tashkent city, as agreed with the President of Uzbekistan.

The unification of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Economic Court of the republic into a unified supreme judicial authority in civil, criminal, administrative and economic proceedings – a Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan is an important provision of the Decree. This measure will help to avoid the duplication of functions of judicial system management, and develop a unified court practice.

The parallel operation of the two highest judicial authorities did not ensure a uniform application of legislation, and led to the adoption of different solutions on similar issues.

The construction of a new system of courts empowered to consider the disputes arising from public legal relations, as well as cases on administrative offenses is of particular importance.

A panel of judges on administrative affairs of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, administrative courts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and Tashkent city, district (municipal) administrative courts will be established for the first time to ensure the implementation of citizens' rights to appeal against illegal actions (or inaction) of state bodies and their officials.

Previously, complaints against actions (or inaction) of state bodies and their officials were considered by civil courts and economic courts in accordance with the Civil and Commercial Procedure Codes, and cases of administrative offenses were in charge of criminal courts in accordance with the Administrative Liability Code.

From now and on, such cases will be considered by newly created administrative courts. It is also planned to draft new laws ‘On the administrative proceedings’ and ‘On administrative procedures’ in order to establish a procedural order of consideration of administrative cases, strengthen the rule of law in state bodies, introduce modern procedures for the implementation of the rights and legitimate interests of legal entities and individuals.

Based on the current requirements, and in pursuance of the further improvement of protection of the rights of business entities, economic courts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regions and Tashkent city will be reorganized into the corresponding business courts. Meanwhile, inter-district, district (municipal) business courts are being established in view of the consistent growth of the economic potential of the country and the number of business entities.

The need for them is entailed by the availability of economic courts solely on the regional level. Due to their remoteness from certain districts, entrepreneurs had to repeatedly travel to the regional center, spending their time and funds, starting from the filing of the claim and finishing with the court resolution of the dispute.

The transfer of the authorized manpower of the military courts from the Armed Forces to the Supreme Court system is another important measure. Enrollment of the military judges in the staff of the Ministry of Defense was not fully consistent with the fundamental principles of judicial independence, the organization of its activities, since the Ministry is not the executive authority.

Much attention is paid to the introduction of information and communication technologies in functions of the courts, which should raise the effectiveness of the judicial system and the population's access to justice.

According to experts, the Decree envisages historical transformations that will streamline and optimize the judicial system of Uzbekistan in accordance with modern requirements and international standards of justice.

The adoption of the Strategy and its public discussion has demonstrated a high level of development of civil society in Uzbekistan, the political culture of citizens, as well as the ability of the state and its political leaders to take a realistic and reasonable approach in assessing major challenges and problems in the course of development of the policy document.

The policy document proves the importance of the country's achievements over the years of independence. Solely a stable and actively evolving society can afford a strategic planning. Such tools are not available in the countries that have serious problems in the national economy, security, and lack an effective dialogue between different social groups.

Uzbekistan confidently ranks among the leaders of the region in terms of development, and is rapidly moving toward the achievement of its major goal of joining the ranks of advanced democratic states.

The Strategy promises to mobilize the national constructive potential and increase the responsibility of the people for the achievement of common goals, motivate and coordinate individual and joint efforts.

It will enable the country to achieve new and tangible results in its development, create drastically new conditions for the life of citizens.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)

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