President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s Address to the Oliy Majlis
Distinguished deputies and senators!
Ladies and Gentlemen!
This time around, I am addressing the Oliy Majlis and the people of Uzbekistan in a rather complicated situation, in contrast to what it used to be in the past.
We are well aware that today, humanity is experiencing a deep crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is likely the biggest global disaster in a century.
According to the latest data, more than 81 million people in 191 countries fell ill with coronavirus infection, while 1 million 765 thousand of them died.
The pandemic is damaging the global economy in the amount of, please note, about $ 400 billion a month. To date, 500 million jobs have been lost worldwide.
Unfortunately, this calamity brought about quite unexpected and tricky problems to the entire humanity, including our nation. Moreover, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes in Bukhara and Sardoba came to be other trials for our country to endure.
Thanks to the unyielding will, selfless work and steadfastness of our people, we have courageously overcome all these trials with the joint effort of the wider public and government bodies.
From the initial days of the pandemic, the entire governance and management system, all medical institutions switched to emergency operation mode.
Within a brief span of time, about 30 thousand medical beds were organized across the nation. Healthcare institutions were provided with essential medicines, cutting-edge protection means and diagnostics equipment. Over 200 thousand medical workers, as well as 150 highly qualified doctors and specialists from abroad were engaged in combating the pandemic.
More than 600 thousand compatriots around the world were taken back to the native land. Assistance has been organized for about 100 thousand of our citizens who found themselves in difficult situation abroad.
To mitigate and eliminate the consequences of the pandemic, the state took comprehensive measures for a total of 82 trillion soums. In particular, the Anti-Crisis Fund was set up, more than 16 trillion soums were allocated from the budget for measures to combat coronavirus, support the population and business. Along with this, practical assistance was provided to state enterprises and more than 500 thousand business entities as well as almost 8 million citizens in the form of tax benefits, deferred repayment of loans and financial aid totaling 66 trillion soums.
Within the framework of the national movement Compassion and Support, with the active participation of our generous compatriots, over 800 thousand low-income families received financial help for more than 1 trillion soums.
The systemic actions we took promptly and in a timely manner allowed us to prevent widespread contagion of this dangerous disease. Relaxed life and sustainable economic development have continued in Uzbekistan.
From the bottom of my heart, once again I sincerely thank our resolute, noble people, who took lockdown requirements with due understanding. I am deeply grateful to our dedicated healthcare workers who have courageously performed their duty, and all entrepreneurs and citizens who took active part in the national movement Compassion and Support.
I would like to express my gratitude to the top executives of the United Nations, the World Health Organization, international financial institutions, the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Japan, Germany and other countries for the practical assistance provided to Uzbekistan in countering the pandemic.
I am greatly honored to express my appreciation and best wishes to the distinguished ambassadors of foreign nations and representatives of international organizations who are making a remarkable contribution to the consolidation of friendship and cooperation with our country.
Esteemed members of parliament!
This year, in accordance with the State Program “Year of Science, Education and Digital Economy”, we continued reforms across spheres with resolution, designed to build a new Uzbekistan.
Estimates of the International Monetary Fund and international rating agencies suggest, Uzbekistan has managed to maintain positive rates of economic growth this year, despite the trials and among the few countries in the world.
In close cooperation with the European Union, important steps were taken to introduce the system of extended trade preferences, GSP+, in our country. This scheme will make it possible in the future to export more than 6 thousand titles of domestic products to the European market duty-free. In the textile industry alone, this will make it possible to increase the sales of goods abroad by almost $ 300 million a year.
In 2020, access to international financial markets expanded; for the first time, government eurobonds in national currency worth 2 trillion soums were placed at low interest rates.
This year, 197 large enterprises, thousands of small and medium ones and infrastructure facilities have been built in the country. In particular, a complex for the production of ammonia and urea and a plant for nitric acid in Navoiazot JSC were commissioned, so were the installations for the production of liquefied gas at the Mubarek, Gazli and Shurtan oil production enterprises, as well as the Tashkent Metallurgy Plant.
In the energy sector, the construction of six new power stations has begun on the basis of public-private partnerships with foreign investors. Their total cost is $ 2 billion, the total capacity is 2,700 megawatts.
Two new underground metro stations and an 18-kilometer-long over-ground metro line were commissioned in Tashkent.
Reforms in agriculture, the transfer of land to private clusters and cooperatives made it possible to increase cotton yields by an average of 10 percent in just a year.
About 500 clusters and cooperatives have been set up in fruit and vegetable cultivation, grain growing and animal husbandry. As a result, despite the negative impact of the pandemic, $ 1 billion worth of fruits and vegetables were exported.
This year, 91 thousand hectares of land have been reclaimed. Water-saving technologies have been introduced on 133 thousand hectares, which is twice as much as last year.
In order to widely support entrepreneurship, many benefits and preferences were provided. Business entities have been allocated 100 trillion soums of loans – almost 4 times the figures in 2016.
The year 2020, without exaggeration, has become a turning point in the field of social protection.
First of all, having recognized the poverty of a certain category of the population for the first time, we began a lot of work to reduce it.
A fundamentally new system of targeted work with low-income families, women and youth has been introduced in all districts and towns, in every mahalla. Within a short period, 527 thousand people were employed through this system.
In addition, owing to the provision of tax benefits to the self-employed population and the removal of many restrictions, the legal labor activity of 500 thousand people has been secured.
The allocation of 300 billion soums of soft loans and subsidies for the development of dehkan farms and household plots became the dawn for a new direction of social support for the rural population.
More than 500 modern companies kick started in IT parks established in Tashkent, Andijan, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Samarkand, Syrdarya and Ferghana regions.
This year, 3 trillion soums were allocated to improve centralized drinking water supply, which is 5 times more than in 2016. As a result, the degree of provision of the population with clean drinking water reached 73 percent.
This year alone, the group of recipients of social benefits has doubled to reach up to 1.2 million people. For their support, fivefold more funds were allocated from the budget compared to 2016.
The coverage of young children with preschool education has doubled in 4 years, reaching 60 percent. The number of kindergartens has tripled and exceeded 14 thousand.
In 2020, the parameters of admission to higher education institutions have increased 2.5 times compared to 2016, and the level of coverage of our youth with higher education has increased from 9 to 25 percent.
For the first time, about a thousand girls from low-income families were admitted to higher educational institutions on the basis of special state scholarships.
In the International rating of open data, Uzbekistan came 44th, having moved up 125 positions. An important factor in this was the introduction of the practice of publishing indicators in 20 areas in the field of state and public administration.
Another international recognition of our reforms is in the Index of Economic Freedom, where Uzbekistan has risen by 26 positions.
Reforms in the judicial sphere continued consistently, including the liberalization of the system of criminal penalties. As a result, 74 percent of the defendants this year were sentenced to non-custodial sentences.
616 people who were serving sentences but considered firmly on the path of correction were pardoned.
This year alone, 719 citizens were acquitted thanks to the provision for independence of courts.
Wherever the citizens of Uzbekistan are, their constitutional rights are reliably protected. This is suggested by the operation Mehr-3, thanks to which 98 more compatriots, mainly women and children, were returned to our country from Syria.
In the context of complex global geopolitical processes, the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing global economic crisis, Uzbekistan is actively pursuing an open and pragmatic foreign policy. Owing to our efforts and decisive actions, the country’s standing in the international arena has been growing.
For the first time in history, Uzbekistan was elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. The recent removal of our country from the list of nations of special watch in the field of religious freedom by the US State Department is also a recognition of our ongoing wide-ranging democratic reforms.
Our global and regional initiatives, launched from the high rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly, were met with great interest and supported by the world community.
Dear people’s representatives!
As you know, our national independence will turn 30 in the coming year 2021. Surely, together with you, with all our people, we will widely celebrate this historic date on the basis of the noble idea “We should live in a new Uzbekistan – a free and prosperous country!”
Today, while defining our plans and programs for the coming year, we will certainly pay special attention to the development of the most important and priority areas, to the consolidation of our achievements over the years of independence.
It should be noted that the pandemic has once again shown that radical reform of the primary healthcare system, the ambulance service, and the sanitary-epidemiological structure is a vital necessity for us.
The next wave of the pandemic and the risks that are currently being observed in other parts of the world require that all of us be even more vigilant and attentive.
Therefore, using the available opportunities and potential, the experience gained during the pandemic, as well as advanced foreign achievements, we need to raise the cardinal reforms in the field of protecting and strengthening the health of the population to a new level. At the same time, one of our most critical priorities should be the widespread adoption of healthy lifestyle, especially among young people.
Generally speaking, the decisive role in the progress of any society is played by the healthy and harmonious development of the growing generation, on which the future of this society depends. That is why in matters of expanding and further increasing the effectiveness of our reforms, we consider our energetic, proactive, comprehensively advanced youth with modern knowledge and skills to be our support, our backbone.
We have set ourselves a great goal, namely, securing the foundation for a new Renaissance in our country, and for this purpose we must deliver an environment and conditions for nurturing new Khorezmis, Berunis, Ibn Sinos, Ulugbeks, Navois and Baburs. Crucial factors in this historic process, an integral part of our national idea, are the development of education and enlightenment, science and innovation, promotion of healthy lifestyle.
Our highest priority should be to empower youth to set and achieve ambitious goals. Only then will our children become a real force that can fulfill the age-old dreams of our people.
To this end, we will carry out large-scale reforms, guided by the idea “New Uzbekistan starts from the doorstep of the school, from the system of education and enlightenment”.
First, we organize high-quality upbringing and education of the younger generation in kindergartens, schools and universities, we mobilize all capacities and opportunities so that the younger generation grows physically healthy and spiritually mature, dedicated to its native land and people.
Second, on the basis of modern knowledge and experience, national and universal values, we will foster young people with independent thinking and the best human qualities.
Third, we will pay special attention to training our boys and girls in modern professions in demand, developing their industriousness and entrepreneurial skills, as well as implementing their initiatives, providing jobs and housing.
In a word, an integral and continuous system will be created, whereby from the moment of birth until reaching 30 years of age, a person will be provided with comprehensive support and assistance so that they can take a well-deserved place in life.
As the world experience shows, investments in the harmonious development of the young generation return to society tenfold, hundred times.
Let us recall the words of our great scientist Abu Ali ibn Sino: “Courageous people are fearless of difficulties”.
I was very pleased with the bold ideas and initiatives expressed by our youth at recent meetings in the Kashkadarya, Khorezm regions and Tashkent’s Chilanzar district.
Especially, at the recent Youth Forum in Tashkent, seeing the eyes of our young men and women burning with enthusiasm, their desire for knowledge, I received a huge boost of energy. And once again I was convinced that they are the very brave and spirited young people Ibn Sino spoke of.
If we are able to combine the knowledge, life experience, foresight of the older generation with the enthusiasm, courage and determination of our youth, we will certainly achieve our goals.
I am confident that together with such an educated youth with a powerful creative potential, we will build a new Uzbekistan.
In order to continue the work we have begun in these important areas and to raise it to a new, higher level, I propose to name the coming 2021 in our country as the Year of Support for Youth and Public Health Promotion.
We need to carry out extensive work on radical reform and further development of the directions defined in the title of 2021.
First, the most critical period in a child’s life is preschool age, when mental activity develops, moral and aesthetic ideas are formed along with physical qualities.
In this regard, our strategic objective in the development of preschool education for the coming years is to create the necessary conditions for its full coverage of all children.
Next year we have to increase the coverage of preschool education to 65 percent, and to 75 percent by the end of 2023. Also, due to the allocation of 600 billion soums of subsidies from the budget, 2,000 non-state kindergartens will be established, the share of the private sector in this area will grow to 25 percent.
Along with this, in 2021, the free school preparation system will cover 560 thousand, or 82 percent, of children aged six years.
In remote villages, the use of alternative forms of preschool education will expand. In collaboration with UNICEF and the World Bank, a model of early childhood education at home for kids with disabilities will be launched.
Second, reforms will be accelerated to radically improve and perfect the quality of school education with the delivery of decent living and working conditions for teachers.
In the new year, 2 trillion soums will be assigned from the budget for the construction of 30 new schools, to repair and step up the material and technical base of 320 schools.
In the next two years, we will apportion 250 billion soums for the introduction of a unified system of electronic education.
In order to radically perk up the quality of education, first of all, it is necessary to bring curricula, teaching aids in line with advanced international standards.
To develop children’s analytical and creative thinking skills, we need to create meaningful and understandable textbooks for them. In this regard, in the next academic year in the elementary grades, based on the best foreign experience, a National Curriculum will be introduced, which will not overload the child.
The quality of school education should be equally high both in the capital city and in remote villages. To this end, it is necessary to implement a special program to provide schools in remote areas with qualified personnel and elevate the quality of education. Specifically, teachers who work in a remote school in another district will receive a 50 percent salary increase, and those teaching in another region will receive a 100 percent bonus.
Also, subsidies will be allocated from the budget to stimulate the activities of private schools in the regions.
A continuous system of developing the abilities and potential of young people will be created.
Next year, 10 Presidential schools, 197 specialized schools in chemistry, biology, mathematics and information technology will start operating in the country.
In order to create conditions for the deep development of high technologies and knowledge by our young men and women, for the training of national personnel of a new formation, we will open a new modern university in the city of Tashkent. We will invite leading foreign scientists and educators to train young people here in accordance with state-of-the-art learning programs.
For the formation of work skills in children from school age, we will introduce a vocational training system.
Another issue that will be in the center of our attention is improving the qualifications of teachers, stimulating their hard work.
As you may know, until now, teachers have undergone advanced training every 5 years. And now they will need to improve it constantly on the basis of the principle of ‘lifelong learning’. The criteria for assigning professional categories to them based on knowledge of their subject, pedagogical skills and psychological preparation will also be revised.
I want to stress once again: the teaching profession should become the most respected and esteemed in society. And the task of the state is to delivery all the conditions for teachers to first of all take care of providing children with quality education, as well as self-improvement. Next year, work will continue to ensure decent wages for teachers, mentors and methodologists.
For these purposes, 330 billion soums will be channeled to regional funds for stimulating public education workers. The amount of additional payment for classroom guidance to more than 240 thousand school teachers will be increased by 1.5 times, an additional 400 billion soums will be assigned from the budget for this.
Third, special attention will be paid to enhancing the coverage and quality of higher education.
Starting next year, the number of state fellowships for higher education will grow by at least 25 percent.
We will double the quota of scholarships for girls from low-income families and bring it to 2 thousand. Special scholarships will be introduced for girls in need of social support who study excellently.
At present, young people strive to be admitted to the most prestigious universities, but there is no competition among those institutions to attract the gifted and talented youth. In this regard, a system will be introduced to provide private universities with a state order for the training of specialists in demand.
In order to strengthen the continuity between universities and the lower layers of the education system, 65 academic lyceums will be transferred to the jurisdiction of higher educational institutions, and 187 technical schools will be assigned to specialized universities and industry enterprises.
It is necessary to strengthen ties with leading foreign universities, research and innovation centers, expand cooperation with them in the field of personnel training.
In this regard, the number of young people sent to study for graduate and doctoral studies in foreign higher education institutions through the El-Yurt Umidi Foundation will increase fivefold next year. Through the Foundation, we will send 100 of our boys and girls to pursue undergraduate degree in other countries for the first time. In subsequent years, their number will grow 2-3 times.
In the new year, 30 leading universities in the country will have the right to independently develop curricula, determine admission quotas and solve financial issues.
Fourth, science and innovation create the foundation for the country’s development.
Next year, the number of doctoral students in universities and research organizations will reach 4.5 thousand, which is thrice the figures in 2017. An additional 240 billion soums will be allocated from the budget for these purposes.
Based on the best international experience, the scientific councils of the leading universities of the republic will be delegated the authority to confer the academic titles of associate professor and professor, academic degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science.
This year, for the first time, measures were taken to comprehensively develop mathematics, chemistry, biology and geology as priority areas of education and science. In particular, 98 specialized schools and the University of Geological Sciences have been established. The curricula were radically revised, the salaries of teachers were increased.
Now we need to define priority areas on this front for the next year.
As history shows, physics has served as the fundamental basis for almost all discoveries and technologies in the world. Indeed, without a deep understanding of the laws of physics, it is impossible to achieve results in such relevant areas and industries as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, IT, water and energy saving technologies.
I think it would be appropriate in this context to quote the words of the great Alisher Navoi, who wrote:
“Leaving in search of knowledge, I am more than convinced
That I will be able to find them not by luck, but by hard work”.
Indeed, a person who seeks to acquire knowledge and master new professions must work hard, including on foreign languages, without which it is impossible to reach high levels in the contemporary world.
Following these requirements, I propose to define the study of physics and foreign languages as a priority for the next year.
Relevant systemic work is already underway at all levels of education, including the improvement of the quality of teaching these subjects, creating specialized schools, and attracting qualified teachers.
The Ahmad Fergani International Scientific Olympiad in Physics will be organized. Additional measures will also be taken to expand the scale and improve the quality of research in the field of physics, and create the necessary conditions for young scientists.
Fifth, we will focus our attention on youth employment and entrepreneurship support.
To this end, next year the vocational education system will be reformed based on new approaches in accordance with the requirements of the labor market and international standards.
From now on, the availability of qualifications will become a key requirement for blue-collar jobs.
In this regard, the Government is instructed to introduce a system for assessing the professional qualifications of citizens in demanded professions from January 1.
As you know, at the recent Youth Forum, we decided to allocate $ 100 million for youth entrepreneurship and employment.
In addition, 1 trillion soums and 50 million dollars will be allocated to finance business projects for young people and train their professions.
Sixth, a new system of special support for children from low-income families, full orphans, children with disabilities and those in need of treatment will be introduced.
Currently, there are 150 thousand children under 18 in the country who need special care. Assisting them in getting an education, acquiring a certain profession, providing treatment to those who are seriously ill, helping orphans find their place in life and providing them with housing is not only our task, but also a human duty.
In 2021, for the first time, 50 billion soums will be allocated from the budget to provide housing for 900 orphans.
In general, it is necessary to establish systemic work in this area and, I think you will approve of this initiative, to create a Public Fund for the Support of Children, allocating 100 billion soums to it from the budget. During the year, the allocations to the Fund will increase.
I am positive that this initiative will become a national movement, and our compatriots will make a worthy contribution to such a noble cause.
I consider it expedient that the Oliy Majlis houses bolster the activities of the Public Fund for the Support of Children at the legislative level, also providing for the stimulation of our most active compatriots, benefactors.
At the same time, the time has come to adopt the Children’s Ombudsman Act.
At the Youth Forum of Uzbekistan, we agreed to address numerous issues related to comprehensive support for the country’s young generation.
I think there is no need to dwell on them again today. For all of us, an urgent task is to implement these initiatives in full.
Dear meeting participants!
In 2021, special attention will be paid to healthcare as another important area and to the priorities in this area.
First. The systemic continuation of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will remain among our most vital tasks in the coming year.
For this work, a reserve of 3 trillion soums has been formed in the state budget for 2021. These funds will also be used to vaccinate the population against coronavirus infection.
$ 200 million will be assigned to improve the quality of work and advance the material and technical base of the sanitary and epidemiological service, the creation of modern laboratories.
Taking into account the lessons learned during the pandemic, the scale of digitalization of the medical sector will be expanded. In particular, measures are envisaged to expand the range of remote services provided by medical institutions, to introduce electronic office work in polyclinics and hospitals. Communication based on telemedicine technologies will be established between the national specialized centers and their local branches, and opportunities for diagnostics and treatment in the regions will be increased.
Second. Caring for the health of mothers and children is caring about the whole society, about our future.
Starting next year, children under 15 and pregnant women will receive 7 types of vitamins and medicines for parasitic diseases free of charge. These measures will cover 11 million people in 2021 and 17 million in 2022, it is planned to allocate 100 billion soums for these purposes.
By providing women and children with free iodine, iron, folic acid, vitamins and anti-parasitic drugs, we hope to reduce the incidence of anemia by 25 percent.
Third. To raise healthcare to a qualitatively new level, it is necessary to strengthen the primary healthcare system, especially in villages and mahallas.
In this regard, instead of general practitioners in primary care institutions, the activities of medical teams will be organized, consisting of a family doctor and 5 assistants from among the nursing staff.
Each mahalla will have a separate system of work with children under 5, women of fertile age and pregnant women, people with disabilities, as well as those at risk of cardiovascular, oncological, endocrine diseases.
At the same time, the list of free medical services and medicines provided by the state will be revised, and a system of guaranteed provision of them to the population will be gradually established.
In addition, for an even wider coverage of the population with primary health care institutions, in the next 3 years, 315 points of family doctors and 85 family polyclinics will be opened.
Also, within the framework of the Rural Doctor program, more than a thousand doctors working in remote areas will receive financial assistance in the amount of 30 million soums and will be provided with service housing.
It is planned to involve private medical organizations in providing primary and specialized medical care in remote areas, conducting screening examinations of socially vulnerable groups of the population, with the provision of subsidies to them.
We will pay special attention to enhancing the authority and status of mid-level medical workers – nurses and paramedics. In particular, 47 Ibn Sino technical schools will annually produce more than 20 thousand young specialists with professional skills in several areas of medicine at once. Mid-level health workers will also be allowed to independently engage in “nursing activities”.
Fourth. Today, more than 12 thousand of our citizens suffer from leukemia and severe hereditary hematological diseases.
In this regard, next year, it is planned to allocate 250 billion soums from the budget for complex diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the field of oncohematology and intractable diseases.
For the first time, more than 5 thousand patients with acute renal failure will be covered by free hemodialysis services; 140 billion soums will be billed from the budget for this purpose.
In addition, in regional hospitals it is planned to create special departments for the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine diseases. For this, 150 billion soums will be assigned from the budget in 2021.
We will establish 35 inter-district centers for the treatment of chronic cardiovascular disease, which affects a significant portion of our population. These centers will help reduce labor mortality and disability through the provision of prompt and qualified medical care for heart attacks and strokes. This will save the lives of at least 30 thousand people a year.
Fifth. Further popularization of physical culture and sports is an important factor in ensuring the health of the population.
Next year, it is planned to allocate 100 billion soums for outfitting 70 physical education and sports facilities, 16 thousand kindergartens and schools with sports equipment. Also, special pedestrian and bicycle paths will emerge in all regional centers and cities.
Thanks to the widespread development of mass sports, in 2021 the proportion of the population constantly engaged in it will increase from 19 to 25 percent.
Speaking about sports, I want to emphasize that we are facing another important task.
The Asian Olympic Council recently decided to host the 2025 Asian Youth Games in Tashkent. Undoubtedly, this is evidence of the great confidence placed in our country. At the same time, we all understand what a great responsibility this is. We must already begin thorough preparations for the competitions of continental importance.
Sixth. Special attention will be paid to issues of improving cultural and enlightenment work.
420 billion soums will be channeled from the budget to intensify the activities of cultural and art institutions, to strengthen their material and technical base. In particular, 22 theaters and other cultural objects will be built and reconstructed in the regions.
Work will begin on the creation of a cultural and educational complex in the center of Tashkent, which will be formed by the National Academic Drama Theater, an art museum designed by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando, a modern library and an Alisher Navoi international art school. In honor of the 30th anniversary of our country’s independence, Istiklol complex will be erected in the heart of the capital city.
The previously held traditional Tashkent International Film Festival will revive under the name “Pearl of the Silk Road” Tashkent International Film Festival.
Here I would like to dwell on one important issue. We need to preserve and pass on to future generations the cultural heritage of our people. Currently, it includes more than 7 thousand objects.
Unfortunately, the recent damage to some of the invaluable facilities speaks of negligence in this matter. This work requires constant attention not only from the Ministry of Culture, but also local hokimiyats, mahallas, the media and the general public.
Within a month, the Government must adopt a special program for the registration, preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.
Dear people’s representatives!
The main goal of economic reforms in the new year will be to reduce poverty and increase the welfare of the population. We intend to achieve these strategic goals through high rates of economic growth and creation of equal opportunities for all.
Over the past 4 years, serious steps have been taken to introduce market mechanisms in all sectors of our economy. The challenge now is to lay the foundation for long-term sustainable growth through deep structural transformation. With all this in mind, in the new year we have to carry out a lot of work in the following areas.
First. In poverty reduction, we will introduce comprehensive approaches and new non-conventional methods.
We need to clearly understand that the problem of poverty cannot be solved only by providing loans, social benefits or housing. This requires a comprehensive solution to issues related to education, healthcare, vocational training, access to clean drinking water, energy resources and road infrastructure.
Why have we introduced such an innovation in the field of social protection as the “iron book”? This makes it possible to more accurately determine who really needs help, and on this basis organize targeted work with vulnerable groups of the population.
The ‘social register’, which will be fully operational next year, will contain all information about needy families included in the “iron book”, and will allow to provide more than 30 types of social services in electronic form.
Above all, we need to meet the basic needs of the poor. The work on in-depth analysis of this issue, carried out together with international experts, is already close to completion. From March 1, 2021, the minimum consumer spending of the population will be announced.
The Government is instructed to systematize social guarantees within two months and develop a program of measures for their phased provision at the level of minimum consumer spending.
A new mechanism based on the principle of “motivation, skills and financial support” will be introduced to lift everyone who is included in the “iron book” out of poverty.
The most important factor in overcoming poverty is the desire of the person himself to get out of this situation, relying on their own strength and moving towards a specific goal. Therefore, next year in mahallas, over a thousand vocational training centers will be created. The centers will be allocated funds at the rate of up to 1 million soums for each student, and in general, 100 billion soums will be allocated from the budget for these purposes. Those who have completed training courses and want to start their own business will be able to receive subsidies of up to 7 million soums for the purchase of essential equipment.
Also, families engaged in agriculture will be allocated 10 acres to 1 hectare of land, depending on the capabilities and specialization of each district.
It is planned to allocate 500 billion soums from the funds for promoting employment and public works to ensure employment of the needy segments of the population.
We cannot allow people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic to become poor. Therefore, starting next year, a new system will be introduced, providing for a threefold increase in the amount of temporary unemployment benefits, as well as the abolition of the outdated bureaucratic procedure for submitting 6 documents to receive such benefits.
Assessment of the real situation with poverty in the regions, monitoring the implementation of the work carried out in this area should be the focus of the chambers of the Oliy Majlis and local Kengashes.
All hokims of districts and cities should, within a month, develop a targeted program to reduce poverty on their territory and report on its implementation on a quarterly basis to local Kengashes and to the people through the media. This should be the main task of all executives and a key criterion for evaluating their work.
Second. As part of structural reforms in the economy, it is necessary to accelerate the transformation of state-owned companies.
Currently, the majority of enterprises with the participation of the state remain a heavy burden for it due to their financial instability. Therefore, starting this year, the implementation of the reform program for all state-owned enterprises has begun. In particular, next year the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine, Uzbekneftegaz JSC, Uzbekgidroenergo, Uzavtosanoat will have the opportunity to enter the international financial market and raise funds without state guarantees.
It should be admitted that the state-owned enterprises themselves do not have enough technical capabilities, and their specialists lack the knowledge and skills to independently carry out the transformation. Therefore, we have invited the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Rothschild & Co and other world famous companies to the reforming large enterprises in the electric power industry, oil and gas and chemical industries, mechanical engineering, as well as commercial banks.
In 2021, the transformation of 32 large enterprises in industries of strategic importance is to be carried out.
Our focus will be on the widespread introduction of digital technologies into the activities of banks. We will prepare Sanoatqurilishbank, Asaka Bank, Ipoteka Bank, Aloqabank, Turon Bank and Qishloq Qurilish Bank for privatization. The state share in at least one large bank will be fully sold to strategic investors. In this regard, negotiations are underway with leading European banks.
An important direction of structural reforms is to reduce the presence of the state in the economy.
We have begun extensive work on the privatization of a number of enterprises with the engagement of international financial and law consultants for the transparent and efficient sale of state assets.
Next year, state shares in such enterprises as Ferghanaazot and Dehkanabad Potash Fertilizers Plant, Coca-Cola Ichimligi, Beldersai and Charvak sanatoriums, Ichan Kala and Hyatt Regency hotels, business complex Poytakht, as well as 83 large enterprises of alcoholic, fat-and-oil sector and other industries will be put up for auction.
In general, the number of enterprises with state participation in the next two years will be reduced by at least 3 times.
Third. It is necessary to deliver a free competitive environment in the commodity and financial markets, as well as equal opportunities for entrepreneurs to access raw materials.
Today there are monopolies in the markets for electricity and gas, precious metals, mineral fertilizers, transport services in our country, and many problems remain in these areas.
Here I would like to focus on the next question. As the economic activity and incomes of the population grow, the demand for energy resources also increases. Therefore, we need to complete the reforms in the oil and gas and energy sectors, along with the implementation of major projects. In particular, in 2021, the formation of a wholesale electricity market will begin with the participation of state and private power plants and consumers.
We will also abolish the monopoly and introduce market mechanisms in the supply of natural gas. Thus, producers and importers will have the right to sell, and wholesale consumers – to buy natural gas on the exchange. The company Uztransgaz will only deal with transportation of gas.
In order to expand the presence of the private sector in the liquefied gas market, import duties will be canceled.
In the field of jewelry production, entrepreneurs will have ample opportunities to purchase raw materials. So, from March 1 next year, the procedure for free sale of silver to producers through the exchange will be established.
Due to the development of healthy competition in the automotive industry and the creation of a level playing field for enterprises in the field, the number of manufacturers will increase.
From 2021, excise taxes on 73 commodity items in the food, oil and electrical industries will be abolished.
One more important issue: today only 4 percent of private entrepreneurs participate in public procurement.
Next year, the requirements for transparency in public procurement will be extended to 24 large state-owned enterprises. As a result, domestic entrepreneurs will be able to sell products to these enterprises for at least 10 trillion soums a year.
From now on, all government purchases will be under public and parliamentary control.
Fourth. Economic growth will be ensured primarily through the creation of competitive production chains and increased investment for these purposes.
According to research by Harvard University, our country has all the opportunities and relative advantages in the production of more than 50 industrial goods.
In particular, there are all conditions for the petrochemical, metallurgical, engineering, electrical, pharmaceutical, construction, textile, leather and footwear, food industries, as well as areas related to the green economy, become drivers of the national economy. It is necessary to take all measures to support private sector initiatives and new projects, the development of cooperation in these sectors.
At present, industrial clusters for the production of decorative stone in Gazgan, ready-made clothes in Namangan, a technopark in the Yashnabad district of Tashkent and others demonstrate their effectiveness and advantages of this system.
The Government is instructed to draw up a list of promising clusters and develop a special program for their accelerated development by April 1 next year.
In the future, it is necessary to build up the potential to increase the production of industrial products “in the mode of processing in the customs territory”.
At the same time, the participation of the state in the implementation of investment policy should be reduced and the share of private and direct investment should be increased.
In the field of geology, this year, at an open auction, investors were granted rights to 21 deposits and promising areas. In 2021, another 50 fields and promising areas will be sold to local and foreign investors on the basis of open tenders. We must continue similar work in other areas.
In general, for the next year we have set the task of assimilating investments in the amount of 23 billion dollars. As a result, 226 large industrial and infrastructure facilities will be commissioned in 2021.
It is planned to launch two large hydrometallurgical plants at the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine, a plant for processing industrial waste at the Almalyk Mining and Metallurgical Combine. Also, hundreds of facilities for the production of textile, construction, leather and footwear, food and pharmaceutical products will be built throughout the country.
At the Yashnabad Technopark of Tashkent alone, 11 modern electrical production facilities will be put into operation, thus their total number will reach 17, and the number of working personnel – 11 thousand.
New power plants with a total capacity of 760 megawatts will be commissioned in the Tashkent, Navoi, Samarkand and Surkhandarya regions.
An industrial complex worth $ 3.6 billion and a capacity of 1.5 million tons of kerosene, diesel fuel and liquefied gas per year will start operating in the Kashkadarya region.
Fifth. Macroeconomic stability is a solid foundation for economic reforms.
In this regard, the key task of the Central Bank and the Government next year will be to keep inflation at a level of no more than 10 percent within the framework of inflation targeting.
The pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of serious attention to food security. In order to prevent a sharp rise in prices for basic foodstuffs, the privileges on customs duties on imports will be extended for another year.
Our people can be sure that the production of quality food, the creation of guaranteed stocks and the uninterrupted supply of food products to the market, as well as ensuring price stability will be given priority. The Government and hokimiyats will take all necessary measures for this, and these issues will be under the constant control of the President.
It is important to ensure that in 2021 our economy grows at least 5 percent, and the budget deficit does not exceed 5.4 percent of gross domestic product. The Government should take the necessary measures to ensure that this figure does not exceed 2 percent in the next two years.
More than 3 years have passed since the liberalization of the foreign exchange market. During this period, the country has accumulated sufficient experience in the field of free currency conversion. Now we need to gradually reduce the dependence of our economy on foreign exchange. To do this, next year the share of foreign currency loans must be reduced from the current 50 to 45 percent, that is, by at least $ 2 billion.
Next year, the share of international bonds issued in national currency should be increased from the current 25 percent to at least 40 percent.
At the same time, the interbank foreign exchange market will be transferred to an online platform, which will allow entrepreneurs to buy currency directly from the bank. As a result, the purchase of foreign currency will take not 4 days from entrepreneurs, as it is now, but only half an hour.
Another question – at present, in accordance with the criteria of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the state external debt of Uzbekistan is at a safe level. From now on, projects implemented in the regions through external borrowing will be discussed by local Kengashes and the public. A system of reporting to the public on the results of such projects will be created.
Also, external borrowing under the guarantee of the state will decrease, and more private capital will be attracted to investment and infrastructure projects. For example, next year, on the basis of public-private partnerships, it is planned to start implementing more than 40 large and medium-sized projects.
In order to strengthen competition in the financial market, the Central Bank is instructed to submit a draft law on non-bank credit organizations for consideration by February 1.
The time has come to create a legal basis for the introduction of Islamic financial mechanisms in our country. For this, experts from the Islamic Development Bank and other international financial institutions will be invited.
Sixth. More favorable conditions will be created for the development of entrepreneurship and small business.
It should be especially noted that during the pandemic, entrepreneurs, along with the state, made a worthy contribution to the sustainable functioning of the economy. We must support entrepreneurs in every possible way. Ensuring their rights, especially the inviolability of private property, should become the main task of state bodies at all levels.
However, there are still facts of violation of property rights of entrepreneurs by some executives and officials. In this regard, I propose that the Business Ombudsman be empowered to initiate bringing such persons to administrative liability.
Next year, on the basis of the principle “Tax officer is an assistant”, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to obtain information about the presence of tax debts from their business partners.
For the convenience of entrepreneurs, 105 types of licenses and permits will be canceled, procedures for obtaining 115 types of such documents will also be simplified.
We will continue to help our entrepreneurs who face a working capital shortage amid the pandemic. Until the end of next year, the benefits in tourism, transport and public catering will be extended. I also propose to extend the term for paying taxes on land and property for another year for a total of 400 billion soums. This preference will be able to take advantage of 20 thousand entrepreneurs.
In addition, for state purchases in the amount of up to 1 billion soums, the amount of advance payments for entrepreneurs will increase to 30 percent of the transaction value.
In general, 6 trillion soums of soft loans will be allocated next year to continue work on financial support for entrepreneurship within the framework of programs to promote family entrepreneurship. Another $ 100 million will be allocated by the Government to expand the Rural Entrepreneurship Development Program, implemented in partnership with the World Bank.
It is planned to revise about 5 thousand normative acts regulating entrepreneurial activity, reduce their number, and devise an Entrepreneurial Code.
As you may know, 4 years ago we declared a moratorium on inspections of business entities. As a result, the number of entrepreneurs has doubled and reached 400 thousand. In this regard, I propose to extend the moratorium for another year.
Along with this, the Government needs to create equal conditions in the market and fully support honest entrepreneurs, I repeat – those honestly and conscientiously working on the basis of modern technologies, and at the same time introduce mechanisms to reduce the shadow economy.
Seventh. A factor in accelerating the achievement of the targets for reducing poverty and increasing rural incomes is a dramatic increase in agricultural productivity and efficiency.
The priority task here is to increase the profitability of a hectare of land from the current average of 2 thousand dollars to at least 5 thousand dollars. For this, it is necessary to widely implement in agriculture the most advanced scientific developments and innovations, including agricultural technologies, water-saving technologies, biotechnologies, achievements of seed production.
First of all, it is necessary to increase the interest of farmers and dehkans in the cultivation of the land. Where there is interest and fairness, there will be change and growth. In this context, it is time to consider securing land use rights and making them a marketable asset.
Within two months, the Government must submit a proposal to strengthen land rights, determine the economic valuation of land and introduce mechanisms for including it in the financial turnover.
Next year, Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Centers will be created in all regions, providing more than 100 types of agricultural services on a one-stop basis, including such important services as improving soil conditions, combating plant diseases, and selecting seeds.
For the first time, more than $ 600 million will be attracted in the form of loans and grants to modernize agriculture, digitize it, increase land fertility, and introduce modern agricultural technologies.
The area of land where water-saving technologies have been introduced will increase fivefold – up to 430 thousand hectares. Another 90 thousand hectares of land will be developed for agricultural needs.
Eighth. All hokims of regions, districts and cities at the beginning of 2020 for the first time reported to the local Kengashes on the work done and further plans.
The biggest drawback in our work today is the lack of knowledge, which, unfortunately, is felt in all areas.
Indeed, without modern knowledge, development is impossible outright. This is evidenced by the fact that in advanced nations, more than 50 percent of the gross domestic product is created through the knowledge economy, that is, innovation and highly qualified personnel.
From now on, each village and mahalla will develop taking into account their specifics, identifying their points of growth. To this end, I propose to create a regional infrastructure development fund with a budget of 3 trillion soums next year. Its funds will be used to co-finance infrastructure projects proposed by local Kengashes.
In addition, 100 technoparks, small industrial zones, regional clusters and logistics centers will be created to develop industrial potential in 84 districts and cities.
Next year, 1.6 trillion soums will be allocated to create the necessary infrastructure in free economic and small industrial zones.
The Government is faced with the task, by April 1 of next year, to approve a program of phased renewal in the regions of 130 thousand kilometers of low-voltage power transmission lines and over 40 thousand transformers. A program will be adopted that provides for the restoration of more than 5 thousand bridges in need of repair. It is planned to allocate 400 billion soums for this work in 2021.
Another important issue is the implementation of the Obod Qishloq and Obod Mahalla programs, within the framework of which the appearance of 1,200 mahallas and villages with a population of about 5 million people has radically changed over the past 3 years. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we had to suspend work in this direction.
Within a month, the Government should develop and approve the Obod Qishloq and Obod Mahalla programs for 2021. Provide funding for these programs from the republican and local budgets in equal shares.
It should be noted that international financial institutions have also expressed their readiness to allocate $ 270 million for these programs.
One of the important factors in the development of regions is the provision of transport links between them. We need to create an interconnected transport network that will allow us to quickly reach the capital, major cities and tourist centers from all settlements of the country.
Based on this, the Government is tasked with launching domestic flights on tourist routes from March 1 of next year and introducing a system of partial compensation from the budget for the cost of air tickets.
In addition, a number of regional airports will be outsourced through public-private partnerships.
Next year, it is planned to launch 2 high-speed trains, and electrification of the Bukhara-Urgench-Khiva railway will begin.
By attracting the private sector, the number of bus routes between settlements, especially villages and regional centers, will be increased.
In Tashkent, the second stage of the construction of over-ground metro will be completed and a section with a length of 12 kilometers will be commissioned. As a result, underground and over-ground metro lines will be connected and form a single system.
In 2021, we will continue consistent reforms to develop tourism. Special attention will be paid to pilgrimage and domestic tourism.
For the improvement of territories, the development of water and road infrastructure around tourist facilities, funds in the amount of 1 trillion soums will be allocated from the budget.
Ninth. Next year, we will further bolster the social protection system.
There is a step-by-step transition to the social model of the definition of disability corresponding to world standards.
A new system will be introduced to provide those in need with prosthetic and orthopedic products and rehabilitation means. This opportunity will be available to about 50 thousand citizens.
The scale of work to provide housing for low-income families will expand. Thus, 2.4 trillion soums will be allocated for making an initial payment and subsidizing payments on interest on mortgage loans for 27 thousand families – this is 2.5 times more families than this year.
Tenth. Entering new export markets will remain one of the most important tasks of the Government.
Next year, it is necessary to intensify work on accession to the World Trade Organization and large-scale cooperation with the European Union.
A separate program should be developed for the effective use of the preferences of the GSP+ system in our country.
As you know, Uzbekistan recently received observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union. For a full-scale presence in the markets of the member states of this organization, we need to accelerate the work on bringing national technical regulations in line with their requirements.
In the new year, $ 100 million will be allocated to enterprises from the Export Support Fund for the purchase of raw materials and the production of export-oriented products.
Exporters will be reimbursed 50 percent of the costs of opening trading houses and stores, advertising costs abroad.
In general, the Government has been tasked to increase the volume of exports of goods and services by at least 20 percent next year.
Dear members of parliament!
Whether our reforms will find their reflection in the daily life of the people, whether we will achieve our goals, it largely depends on the effectiveness of the public administration system. Next year in this direction it is necessary to fulfill the following tasks.
First, a radical improvement in the activities of government bodies is required.
In many ministries and departments, the decision-making process is overly centralized. Duplication of functions is often observed, since they are not clearly spelled out and in full.
Along with this, some deputy ministers, mid-level managers do not dare to take responsibility, to show initiative.
Why is this so? They lack knowledge, skills and a sense of responsibility, or they are corrupt.
Unfortunately, these executives, instead of dealing with the pressing problems that people expect of them, are busy with useless paperwork and ineffective meetings.
Another serious drawback is that no measures are taken to optimize the number of employees, as well as work processes through the widespread introduction of digital technologies.
In this regard, the Government must, within two months, prepare draft regulations aimed at reducing overlapping departments, functions and bureaucratic barriers in management. It is necessary to provide for the optimization of the number of employees in the public administration system on average to 15 percent.
By the end of next year, it is necessary to increase the number of types of state electronic services by 60, bringing them to 300, and the share of remote services – to at least 60 percent.
Second, the responsibility and accountability of government bodies in solving problems on the ground will be strengthened.
From the beginning of next year, each ministry must plan and organize its work in the context of the region, city, village and mahalla. The performance of ministers and their deputies will be assessed on the basis of what real changes have taken place on the ground.
Deputy Prime Ministers and Ministers will be responsible for training managers and employees of their systems to work effectively on the basis of new requirements and modern information technologies, as well as for continuous improvement of their qualifications.
I urge deputies and senators to regularly monitor how problems are solved in their constituencies by the relevant ministries and hokimiyats.
I want to emphasize that in order to improve the efficiency of management of the district, city and mahallas, the number of employees and the size of their salaries should be determined taking into account the specifics of the region and the volume of work. For example, more than 150 thousand people live in the Pakhtachi district of Samarkand region, and over 500 thousand people in the Urgut district. Or, the population of the Shaykhantohur district of Tashkent is about 350 thousand, and the Bektemir district is 46 thousand. But the number and salary of executive personnel in these districts are almost the same.
The Government must, within two months, submit a draft decree on dramatically improving the activities of middle and lower-level management bodies, revising the number of employees and conditions of remuneration.
Third, it is necessary to further improve the institutional foundations of executive and representative bodies at the local level, as well as mahallas.
Hokimiyats and Kengashes operate on the basis of a law passed 27 years ago, when the institution of hokimiyat was introduced. Considering that this document no longer meets the requirements of current reforms, it should be completely updated.
The results of our reforms, the ongoing changes and the mood of the population are primarily manifest in the mahalla. In this sense, I think it would be correct to say that mahalla is a mirror of our society and life values. That is why leaders of all levels should study problems, as they say, at the grass roots, in mahallas, find their solutions, make changes that people will feel on themselves.
Henceforth, the state of affairs in the mahalla will be the main criterion in evaluating the work of ministries, departments and hokimiyats.
It is also necessary to develop a program to increase the authority of the mahalla, increase its resources and capabilities, and boost the material security of its employees.
This year, we began to introduce the practice of directing at least 10 percent of the over-fulfilled part of regional budgets directly to solving problems in mahallas, in total 70 billion soums were allocated for this. Now this practice will expand: mahallas will also receive 5 percent of the expenditure side of the district budget. As a result, for example, in the Gijduvan district alone, 8 billion soums, and in the city of Ferghana, 11 billion soums will be directed to solving the problems that the population considers the most urgent.
Granting the chairpersons of the mahalla the right to include in the agenda of meetings of local Kengashes issues that must be considered will allow to achieve a prompt solution to problems.
A system will be created for the promotion of qualified and proactive personnel working in the mahalla to leading positions in state bodies.
The Legislative Chamber and the Senate, together with the Cabinet of Ministers, by April 1, 2021, architecture recommended to develop draft new laws aimed at radically improving the activities of executive bodies, local representative bodies and the institution of mahalla. These documents should clearly delineate the powers, tasks and functions of hokims, their deputies and advisers.
Fourth, intolerance towards any manifestation of corruption should become an integral part of our daily life.
All government bodies, political parties, public organizations, mass media, every citizen must mobilize to fight this evil.
We need to instill in children from an early age the understanding that corruption is a very serious crime, foster intransigence towards it, teach honest work and honest business.
It is imperative to prevent corruption and ensure transparency in decision-making processes in all government bodies. So, this year our citizens have had the opportunity to get acquainted with the data on public procurement and, on this basis, raise relevant questions.
The Ministry of Finance is instructed, within three months, to establish the practice of publishing information on revenues and expenditures of off-budget funds of state bodies, purchases of organizations with state participation, as well as data on state subsidies and grants.
The fact that over the past two years the courts have overturned about 2.5 thousand decisions of hokims indicates the need to ensure transparency in the process of making such decisions. An electronic information system will be introduced to record and publish decisions of local government bodies.
The Anti-Corruption Agency should submit, within a month, a proposal to expand the list of open data.
One of the most effective means of fighting corruption is the creation of an open system for the selection and recruitment of personnel. Therefore, instead of outdated selection methods, an open and transparent competitive system will be introduced, which will make it possible to assess the intellectual potential of candidates.
A system of regular training and assessment of the knowledge of civil servants in the field of corruption prevention will also be created.
Fifth, in order for every person in the country to experience the results of our reforms through the example of their own lives, it is necessary to ensure the timely and effective execution of the adopted documents.
Over the past 4 years, 150 laws have been adopted, along with about 2 thousand decrees and resolutions aimed at implementing large-scale transformations in all areas. But it cannot be said that all local leaders understand the essence and meaning of these documents, use the opportunities provided, and create the necessary conditions for the population and entrepreneurs.
The current control system is rather formal in nature and is not focused on identifying and solving problems in the execution of regulatory legal acts. Therefore, next year a new system of work in this area will be introduced.
From now on, communicating to the population, clarifying the essence of the adopted documents, assisting in their implementation and monitoring the execution will be the main task of the Ministry of Justice, its territorial offices, boards and divisions. For this, the Ministry of Justice is provided with the necessary powers and resources.
Also, broad public control over the implementation of the adopted documents will be established. In particular, it is planned to introduce a system of public hearings and public monitoring with the active involvement of civil society institutions, the media and citizens themselves in this process.
In addition, redundant tasks and functions that hinder execution will be reduced based on appropriate analysis.
In regional, district and city Kengashes of people’s deputies, and at the republican level – in the Cabinet of Ministers, the practice of monthly critical discussion of the quality and status of the implementation of regulations in government bodies is being introduced.
The Government is urged to determine the necessary measures for the implementation of this system within a month, together with the Ministry of Justice, the Civil Service Development Agency and the Academy of Public Administration.
The Minister of Justice ought to to introduce a system for communicating the essence and results of reforms to the population by organizing speeches and broadcasts in all mass media, including on television, preparation of television programs on the topic “Presidential Decisions: Execution and Oversight”.
Sixth, one of the priorities of our reforms is to further enhance the role of women in public administration.
As you may know, at present, executive departments, banks and hokimiyats, under the leadership of the Federation of Trade Unions, are thoroughly studying the problems of more than 6 million women through home visits.
We must acknowledge that these actions have revealed for the first time the true state of affairs on the ground. Now, based on the results of the study, “women’s books” are being formed, and a search for practical solutions to many socio-economic problems of concern to women is underway. The newly created advisory councils of women in mahallas directly help in this.
We are well aware that this is only the beginning of work to address the challenges we face in this direction.
It is our duty to do everything possible to create decent living conditions for over 17 million women living in the country – our daughters, mothers and grandmothers.
No one can understand the everyday problems and concerns of women better than themselves.
As a result of the reforms carried out to strengthen the role of women in public administration, today they make up 30 percent of deputies and senators in parliament. In the regional, city and district hokimiyats, the position of the hokim’s adviser on women’s issues was introduced.
As the next step in enhancing the role and status of women in society, creating new opportunities for them, I propose to form a Women’s Republican Public Council, which will include active and proactive women who have life experience and are well aware of women’s issues.
I think all of you will support me if I propose to head this council to the Chairwoman of the Senate Tanzila K. Narbayeva, who has extensive experience in this area.
It would be logical if the activities of local women’s councils would be led by hokim’s advisers on women’s issues.
I consider it expedient to transfer republican and regional funds to support women to the councils being formed.
More than 1 trillion soums will be additionally allocated from the budget to support women’s business projects and to solve the problems of women identified on the ground. To this end, the Khalq Bank will introduce a new system of training women in entrepreneurship, developing standard business plans for them and providing practical assistance in obtaining loans.
Oliy Majlis and the Government – within a month – are recommended to develop a proposal to create an integral system aimed at further strengthening the role of women in society and public administration.
Another important issue is the comprehensive support of the senior generation. This is our direct duty and obligation.
To provide assistance to the elderly on a permanent basis, the financial capabilities of the Nuroniy Republican Fund will be expanded. For these purposes, next year, the fund will be allocated 100 billion soums.
The volume of funds allocated for material assistance and the organization of meaningful leisure for more than 16 thousand veterans in need of outside care will increase, the range of social services provided to them will be expanded. In addition, more than 25 thousand veterans will be able to improve their health in new sanatoriums in Bukhara, Karshi and Urgench, as well as in existing medical and health improvement institutions.
It would be advisable to enrich the content and increase the number of TV programs “Otalar Suzi – Aqlning Kuzi”, as well as organize new programs “Nuroniylar Maslahati”, “Mahallada Gurung” on central TV channels dedicated to senior citizens.
Seventh, we will continue to support non-governmental non-profit organizations and the media in the development of a free civil society.
The activities of the Public Fund for Support of Non-Governmental Non-Profit Organizations and Other Civil Society Institutions should be focused on solving urgent issues in the field.
In particular, non-governmental non-profit organizations will be widely involved, on the basis of a social order, in identifying existing problems at the local level, in deep analysis, in developing proposals for solving and ensuring public control over their implementation.
Such interaction should be widely introduced, first of all, in such areas as education, culture, medicine, ecology, construction, cadastral registration, transport, utilities, employment, social services. Next year, 60 billion soums will be allocated from the budget to organize this work.
I also propose to create an institution of a permanent representative of non-governmental non-profit organizations in the Legislative Chamber. I believe that that person should be empowered to participate in meetings of the lower house of parliament, to make proposals on how the issues of effective public control and social partnership should be reflected in the adopted laws.
I would like to draw your attention to the following important issue.
The media, along with objective coverage of large-scale changes taking place in our country, draw the attention of government departments and the public to pressing issues on the ground and encourage leaders at all levels to address them. Today they are increasingly becoming the fourth branch of power.
To be sure, many local officials do not like sharp and critical materials that violate their calm and carefree existence. But openness and freedom of speech are a demand of the times, a demand for reforms in Uzbekistan.
Over the past four years, we have been learning to live and work in the atmosphere of transparency and openness, freedom of speech created in our society.
Fair criticism of objective journalists and bloggers points out the mistakes and shortcomings of the old-fashioned officials, forcing them to change their style of work and increase responsibility.
From now on, every state body must establish a constant dialogue and cooperation with the media in its daily activities.
Our confident steps towards the liberalization of legislation in this area are evidenced by the recent exclusion from the Criminal Code of the norms that provided for punishment in the form of imprisonment for libel and insult in the media.
Next year, the legal foundations for ensuring freedom of speech, comprehensive development of the media, and free activities of journalists and bloggers will be further strengthened.
At a time when our country has just entered a new stage of development, in order to provide wide support and protection of the media, the creation and assistance of information services of state bodies, the Agency for Information and Mass Communications was established. In order to bring the reform in the information sphere to a new level, to ensure its further development, all-round support for the independent activities of the media, I consider it necessary to critically review the activities of the agency.
Dear deputies and senators!
In the new year, we will continue our reforms aimed at ensuring the protection of human rights and freedoms, the rule of law.
As you know, over the past 4 years we have taken decisive steps to reform the judicial and legal system. More than 40 laws, decrees and resolutions were adopted on priority issues in this area.
Justice is a solid foundation of statehood. The judiciary plays a critical role in ensuring justice and the rule of law.
From this point of view, we still have a lot of work in this direction.
First. The principle of ‘one court – one instance’, which is being introduced from the new year, should become the main criterion for securing justice, legality and stability of court decisions.
Today, complaints against decisions of regional courts are considered by them. In 2019 alone, 13 thousand such decisions of regional courts were changed or canceled by the Supreme Court.
Duplicate courts will be abolished from next year. Supervisory review practice that does not meet the standards of justice will be abolished.
Another important question: starting from the new year, three categories of courts at the regional level – for civil, economic and criminal cases – will be combined into one court. This innovation will create convenience for the population and entrepreneurs.
Also, from the beginning of the year, the practice of preliminary hearing in court will be introduced as a new procedure. So, if there are sufficient grounds to suspend or terminate the case, the court will make an appropriate decision as soon as possible, in connection with which there will be no need to return the case to the investigating authorities or the prosecutor’s office, as it was before.
Another important innovation is that for the proper protection of investors’ rights, a special judicial structure has been established in the Supreme Court to consider investment disputes and competition cases. The investor can now, at his discretion, directly appeal to the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute.
In the course of the further expansion of the digitalization of the judicial system for our citizens, the ability to submit documents online without going to court will be established, as well as to remotely monitor the progress of their appeals.
Second. Work will continue on the wider introduction of the principle of humanism into the penal system. In particular, based on international standards, 25 colonies-settlements will be phased out.
Henceforth, if the punishment imposed on a person sentenced to imprisonment for the first time is replaced by a milder one, he, instead of being assigned to a colony-settlement, will be sent under probation supervision. As a result of this relaxation, 6 thousand people currently serving sentences will be given the chance to live at home with their families under the supervision of mahalla.
At the same time, the powers to change sentences to lighter ones and to apply for parole are transferred from the penal institutions to newly created humanitarian commissions.
Third. It is necessary to radically revise in order to improve the system for the prevention of torture in the operational-search activity, the bodies of investigation and the execution of sentences. It is absolutely true that such cases, which still take place, cause serious indignation among citizens and harm the international reputation of our country.
The chambers of the Oliy Majlis and the National Center for Human Rights should, within two months, develop proposals to expand the powers of the Ombudsman in the field of torture prevention, as well as to strengthen public control in this area. It is necessary to establish a system of quarterly monitoring visits to pre-trial detention centers and penitentiary institutions with the participation of representatives of the public.
The chambers of the Oliy Majlis should annually hear the report of the Commissioner for Human Rights on the prevention of torture and determine the necessary measures to completely eradicate this extremely negative phenomenon.
Fourth. Last year, a procedure was established for the direct granting of citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan to those who came to our country before 1995. This made it possible for more than 50 thousand people to obtain citizenship.
How do you think if, in continuation of this work next year, we directly grant Uzbek citizenship to stateless persons who came to our country before 2005 and live here permanently? Thanks to this, another 20 thousand people will have the opportunity to become citizens of Uzbekistan.
From now on, a procedure for granting citizenship directly to stateless persons permanently residing in our country for 15 years will be introduced.
Dear meeting participants!
Against the background of complex processes taking place in the world, ongoing conflicts and confrontations in the near and far abroad, we must strengthen our work to ensure peace and security in the country.
Next year, we will pay special attention to further consolidation of the country’s defense capability, in particular, increasing the power of our Armed Forces, professional and the physical potential of the army, social support for servicemen and women and their families, educating our youth in the spirit of patriotism.
New approaches will be introduced to ensure public safety and create a safe environment in each mahalla.
Continue reforms aimed at ensuring that law enforcement agencies actually become reliable defenders of the interests of our citizens and the peace of the population.
Natural disasters and man-made disasters that have occurred in the country in recent years, fires in the autumn-winter period and many other adverse events require further improvement of the existing protection system of territories from emergencies.
Many large facilities and high-rise buildings are being built in the country, which also requires the creation of a new effective fire safety system. It is necessary to radically strengthen the material and technical base and human resources of fire and rescue units.
In this regard, the Government is instructed to develop a draft law “On the State of Emergency” within two months and a program of measures to address the identified problems.
Distinguished Senators and Deputies!
When implementing the foreign policy of our country in 2021, the following tasks will be of priority importance for us.
First, the Foreign Policy Concept of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be refined, taking into account our open, pragmatic and constructive foreign policy, as well as our long-term strategic goals.
Second, we will pay special attention to cementing the centuries-old friendship, good-neighborly relations, strategic partnership and mutual trust with Central Asian states. This is the priority of our foreign policy.
The difficult conditions of the pandemic have once again demonstrated how much we need each other and are interconnected. For a comprehensive and consistent study of such positive processes, the International Institute of Central Asia was established this year in Tashkent.
Next year, Tashkent will host a high-level international conference on the interaction of our region with South Asia.
Along with this, the international conference on Central Asia at the crossroads of world civilizations is being held in the city of Khiva jointly with UNESCO.
Third, we will continue to expand the multidimensional and mutually advantageous relations with our main partners – Russia, China, USA, Turkey, Germany, France, Great Britain, South Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and other states.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and his deputies, ambassadors of our country abroad should introduce a new, more effective system of work in this direction.
Fourth, we are firmly convinced that the long-awaited peace will come into the neighboring Afghanistan, and we will continue to provide all possible assistance in this noble cause.
It is no exaggeration to say that the Tashkent International Conference laid a solid foundation for advancing global efforts to resolve the Afghan crisis.
To date, we have taken the first practical steps to implement the project for the construction of the Trans-Afghan transport corridor, which will connect Central Asia with the Indian Ocean. Its implementation will serve to ensure stability and sustainable economic development throughout the region.
Fifth, the development of close cooperation with the UN and other prominent international and regional bodies will always be in the heart of our attention.
This year, Uzbekistan chaired for the first time in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and, despite the pandemic, more than 60 planned international events were successfully held, about 70 important documents were adopted.
Serious preparations have also begun for Uzbekistan’s presidency in Shanghai Cooperation Organization in 2021-2022.
Sixth, we will consistently bolster our achievements in the field of human rights, freedom of speech and religion in cooperation with leading international organizations.
Next year, under the auspices of the United Nations, we will host an international forum on Human Rights Education, a World Youth Conference on Youth Rights and a regional conference on religious freedom.
Seventh, I propose to create the Vatandoshlar fund to support and strengthen ties with our compatriots living in many countries of the world.
Eighth, we will raise to a qualitatively new level the work on consolidating the atmosphere of interethnic harmony and tolerance in our society.
You may know that in accordance with the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, July 30 is widely celebrated annually as the International Day of Friendship. I propose to define this date in Uzbekistan as the Day of Friendship of Peoples.
Ninth, we are seriously concerned about the deterioration of the environmental situation in the region and around the world.
Together with adjacent countries and the international community, we will resolutely continue our work to mitigate the consequences of the environmental disaster caused by the tragedy of the Aral Sea.
Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest plantations are being created on its dried-up bottom, and a huge amount of construction and improvement work is being carried out in the Aral region. All this inspires our people to make for new frontiers. In this regard, we will strengthen practical work within the framework of the UN Human Security Multi-Partner Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region.
According to the World Health Organization, the threat of a pandemic may persist for a long time. It is not yet known how long this trial will continue for humanity.
According to forecasts by the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and eminent experts, the pandemic could exacerbate crisis phenomena, social tension, poverty and other problems around the world.
We all understand that after the pandemic, the socio-economic picture of the world will certainly change.
Experience shows that only states with a strong and effective governance system and a cohesive population will be able to timely prevent a widespread pandemic and eliminate its consequences.
This is proved by the experience of Uzbekistan during the fight against this disease. But we should not be complacent with the achieved results, but closely monitor the situation in the world and, above all, take care of ensuring our national interests.
In today’s difficult situation, the main task should be the consistent continuation of the comprehensive reforms launched in the country, our confident steps towards building a new Uzbekistan.
Ensuring economic and political stability during the global crisis, solving existing problems on the ground, supporting the needy layers of the population, realizing the hopes and aspirations of our youth should be the primary task of leaders at all levels, starting with the President.
The main requirement in the implementation of these urgent tasks is the efficient coordinated activity of the institutions of the state and society, increasing its effectiveness and quality.
In 2021, an important political event in the life of our country and people – presidential elections – will take place.
The Central Election Commission should pay particular attention to the organization of the elections at a high level on the basis of national legislation and universally recognized international democratic principles.
First of all, it is necessary to form systemic knowledge of electoral legislation and international standards among members of election commissions.
We will continue to work on the implementation into national legislation and practice the recommendations, acceptable to us, of international observers during the latest elections.
I am convinced that this important political campaign will demonstrate the steady growth of political and legal culture, the expansion of the worldview and the consolidation of the civic stance of voters, all our compatriots in the new Uzbekistan.
I think our parliament, political parties, non-governmental organizations, our wise senior generation and initiative-driven youth will express their views on the priority tasks set out in today’s Address.
Taking into account the proposals and opinions of the general public regarding the priorities and tasks identified today, the Government should, within a month, develop and submit for approval the State Program for 2021 and the Development Program of Uzbekistan after the pandemic.
It should be emphasized that we have enough natural resources, strength and potential to achieve our goals.
And in this, our multiethnic people are a strong backbone for us, including the respected veterans, hardworking and caring women, modern-minded young people who are not inferior to anyone and in no way.
Crucially, an atmosphere of peace, interethnic harmony and tolerance, compassion and kindness reigns in our society.
Having rallied around the common goal “We should live in a new Uzbekistan – a free and prosperous country!” with a sense of deep responsibility, working hard, we will certainly reach the targets we have set.
Today, with kind intentions, we are setting ourselves very important objectives for 2021.
To be sure, they will not be easy to fulfill. Unfortunately, in various walks of our life, there are still many problems and shortcomings.
It is no secret that due to the lack of proper organization of work on the ground, some executives lack competence and qualifications, there is bureaucracy, corruption, indifference and negligence.
We are well aware of these problems. And in order to overcome the obstacles that hinder our development, we will steadily continue the reforms we have begun.
From this point of view, in the new year, we need to work with dedication, with greater dedication. Many life difficulties may still await us, and we must be ready for this.
But no matter how difficult it is, we will not deviate from the path of democratic reforms. We will go forward, only forward. And for this we have every opportunity. After all, our people are not the same as they used to be yesterday. Today’s Uzbekistan is not the Uzbekistan of the past.
The power and will of our people, which in the current difficult conditions overcomes all trials and tribulations, are becoming even stronger. Every citizen realizes even deeper that their life and destiny are inextricably linked with the destiny and future of the Motherland.
Confidence in our strengths and capabilities makes us more resilient, uniting on the way to the lofty goal of forming the foundation for a new Renaissance in our country. This aspiration is filled with practical content, turns into a great, truly national movement. It is a great happiness and great honor to be in its ranks.
And I wish every one of us this happiness, namely, to faithfully serve our beloved land, our noble people!
I will take this opportunity to sincerely congratulate you, and in your person all our compatriots, with the coming new year, 2021.
I wish you all a sound health and prosperity to your families!
May the life of our children and grandchildren be happy and wonderful!
Thank you for attention.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev chairs a videoconference on the effective organization of the State Program implementation