An international conference on “Uzbekistan: Accelerated Reforms in Five Years” was organized by the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan on 5 October in Tashkent at the initiative of the Development Strategy Centre.
The conference was attended by members of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, deputies of the Legislative Chamber, heads of public administration bodies, NGOs, civil society institutions, international organizations, foreign ambassadors, international and local experts, specialists and local and foreign media.
There have been heard analytical reports on the results of reforms implemented under the Strategy of Actions, assessments and opinions of civil society representatives, local and international experts, presented by speakers.
Particularly, Charlotte Adrian, Head of the EU Delegation, Filip Dimitrov, Vice-President of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, Alkis Drakinos, Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Suguru Miyazaki, Head of the JICA Office, Hans-Ulrich Imhats presented their views and recommendations on the continuation of the reforms initiated in the country.
During the event, Eldor Tulyakov, Executive Director of the Development Strategy Centre, presented the electronic platform Reforms.uz and its mechanisms, which contain information about all the reforms implemented in the framework of the Action Strategy and their results in a simple and popular form.
– In the process of creating this platform, experts from the Development Strategy Centre and the Institute for Strategic and Interregional Studies (ISRS) under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan studied a huge amount of information – both official figures and statistics of government agencies and international organizations, foreign experts and civil society. In particular, more than 400 of the most important documents were selected from more than 1,200 documents submitted by more than 70 ministries and agencies, and this information was posted on the platform in a universal language that is understandable to all. Now, through the Reforms.uz platform, every citizen of our country can get acquainted with the results of reforms on a particular topic of interest. All figures on the platform are presented in a comparable form so that observers can compare all the data for the time period from 1991 to 2016 and from 2017 to 2021. Most importantly, the data is posted on the platform in Uzbek, Russian and English.
Here, it is worth to note, that the first priority of the Action Strategy is a number of administrative reforms to improve the system of state and society building. In particular, 110 inefficient interdepartmental bodies have been shut down. 10 new ministries and departments were created and 6 state functions were transferred to the private sector.
Since 2017, the People's Receptions and the Virtual Receptions of the President have been established in Uzbekistan. They provide direct communication with the population, prompt response and problem solving on the ground. From 2017 to 2020, 10.1 million appeals were studied and resolved positively.
As a result of the fight against bureaucracy, the number of documents required for the use of public services has been reduced by 2 times (from 167 to 79). Over 4 years, the number of services provided on the "single-window" principle has increased 10 times (from 16 to 157).
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ruslanbek Davletov emphasized, that there have been adopted 5 state programs for the implementation of the Action Strategy, based on the names consistently given to the years, and 114 trillion soums and about $31 bn have been allocated for their implementation. It was noted that a total of 118 fundamental ideas for the development of Uzbekistan have been put forward, 311 laws, about 2,000 decrees and resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, more than 3,000 Government decisions have been adopted to implement the Action Strategy.
In his speech, the Chairman of the Supreme Court Kozimjon Kamilov touched upon a number of reforms in the judicial system. It has been acknowledged that in 2018, to protect the rights of citizens and the interests of entrepreneurs, administrative courts were established to hear cases of illegal actions (or inaction) of state bodies and officials. From 2017 to September 2021, 68,000 claims were considered by administrative courts and 44.3 thousand were satisfied, in particular, 5.3 thousand resolutions of governors were found to be illegal.
In 2017-2020, the country's foreign trade turnover increased 1.4 times, the inflation rate decreased from 18.8% to 11.1%, gold and foreign exchange reserves increased from $ 26.4 billion to $ 34.9 billion.
Uzbekistan abolished customs duties on all exported goods and services, simplified export and licensing procedures, set "zero" rates of customs duties on 60% of imported goods and reduced rates of import duties to 6.45%. As a result of the reforms, the small business sector has grown significantly: in 2016, 27,000 small businesses were registered in the country, and in 2020 - 93,000.
In 2017-2020, Uzbekistan allocated 1618 billion soums on medicines and medical supplies. soums (from 1991 to 2016 it was 227 billion soums). Of these, UZS 61.6 billion for drugs for the treatment of oncological diseases (8.3 billion soums in 1991-2016), 217.4 billion soums – for drugs for haematology and oncohematological (2.8 billion soums in 1991-2016).
As a result of reforms in the public education system, 328 new schools were built in 2017-2020 and 11-year compulsory school education was restored.
There have also been major changes in the pre-school education system. In 2016, there were 5.2 thousand kindergartens, in 2020 they increased to 18.3 thousand (in particular, the number of public kindergartens increased from 5 thousand to 6.2 thousand). The coverage of children with preschool education reached 61% in 2020 and 27.7% in 2016.
Uzbekistan is actively working to reduce poverty: the poverty rate has decreased from 28% in 2000 to 11% in 2020. Low-income families are exempted from paying for kindergartens, and schoolchildren from low-income families are provided with seasonal clothing.
The event also touched upon the work done to ensure security, interethnic harmony and religious tolerance, to pursue a well-thought-out, mutually beneficial and practical foreign policy.
In particular, for the first time, Uzbekistan was removed from the list of "countries of particular concern" on religious issues. Friendly and mutually beneficial relations with neighbouring countries have been strengthened, and issues related to borders and the use of water and energy resources have been settled.
Currently, Uzbekistan has a visa-free regime for citizens of 86 countries (in 2016 it was valid for 9 countries), the country has risen several positions in international rankings.
Uzbekistan's defence potential has been strengthened: the share of contract servicemen has increased to 68% (37% in 2016), and the level of modern armament of the army has increased fivefold.
The participants of the international conference also noted that the Strategy of Actions is an important national strategic document for Uzbekistan in the near future to implement the five most important priorities of political, legal, economic and social reforms in the current context of globalization.
In the second part of the event, the participants were divided into sessions and analysed the results achieved with experts in the field of the five areas for the implementation of the Action Strategy, developed their proposals and recommendations for future tasks.
Intense discussions were held at the end of each session. At the end of the conference, foreign and local experts also shared their views.
Development Strategy Centre