December 15, 2014
In the Name of a Great Future, for the Sake of Every Citizen

Annual grand meetings in the O’zbekiston Palace of International Forums on the occasion of the anniversary of the Constitution of Uzbekistan have become a good tradition. President Islam Karimov sums up the development of state and social reforms, and determines the title of the next year.

Addressing the participants in a report entitled ‘Our objective is to decisively move toward the development, democratic renewal and modernization of the country’, the President of Uzbekistan emphasized, “The Day our Constitution was adopted, December 8, 1992, will remain a milestone in our history, a holiday that laid the groundwork for building an independent democratic state with a socially oriented market economy, and shaping a civil society with the key objective of ensuring human interests, rights and freedoms, with the rule of law, and equality of all the country’s citizens under the law.”

Traditionally, the meeting focused on the past stage of development and the progress achieved. In due time, the country completely drew the line at various forms of the so-called ‘shocking therapy’ unacceptable for local people, which offered all former Soviet republics to rush into a raging whirlpool of a market economy, hoping for its self-regulation, without well-thought programs and not taking into account the historical, national and traditional peculiarities. With such a policy it would be difficult to predict our future. The correctness of the way we have chosen, which is based on five principles, is primarily proved by the heights we have achieved in a historically short period of time on our way toward democratization and liberalization of the political, economic and humanitarian spheres of society, in the process of sustainable economic development and increasing the quality of life for the population.

Since gaining its independence, Uzbekistan’s economy has grown by almost five times, the income per capita by 8.7 times, while the country’s population has increased by 1.5 times and on January 1, 2015 is expected to make up 31.5 million people. It is noteworthy that the country’s external debt does not exceed 15 percent, and internal debt, namely the government’s debt to the population, stands at zero. Exports and foreign exchange reserves grow steadily. Despite the ongoing global financial strains, annual GDP growth rate in Uzbekistan has been exceeding 8% over the past decade.”

Speaking about the ongoing tremendous changes in Uzbekistan, the changing face of cities and villages, the growing welfare, President Islam Karimov pointed out the decisive role of drastic changes in people’s consciousness and thinking in this process, their beliefs, attitudes towards the world and the future, qualitative growth of their political and legal culture. The head of state emphasized that the National Personnel Training Program, adopted 17 years ago, and the school development program, which have radically reshaped our attitude toward life, are deemed a key pillar and a strong foundation for attaining the above-mentioned goals.

Uzbekistan intends to join the ranks of progressive and developed democratic states, to provide its people and posterity with a decent quality of life and prestige in the international arena. The long term ‘Concept of intensifying democratic reforms and forming the civil society in the country’ is a guide for the further policies.

Twenty-seven laws and dozens of legal acts have been approved in four years since the adoption of the Concept. The Basic Law has been amended. The amendments have significantly enhanced the role and importance of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) in the state administration system, strengthened its position and the capacity of the country’s supreme legislative body in the formation and implementation of internal and foreign policy of the Republic. The principles, the procedure of formation, organization of activities of the Cabinet of Ministers, executive authorities have been changed accordingly. Besides, the amendments have expanded the powers and enhanced the responsibility of government to the parliament, and local authorities to the Councils of People’s Representatives.

The country has implemented a range of measures to strengthen the judicial control over the observance of the procedural rights of citizens at the stage of inquiry and investigation. The scope of application of the habeas corpus institution has been considerably expanded in the process of consistent development of the most effective mechanism of ensuring rule of law and fairness in the criminal justice. The measures taken to streamline the structure and organizational framework of courts of general jurisdiction, strengthen their human resources, and enhance the social protection of court officers, have had important implications. Profound democratic reforms have been carried out in the system of formation and development of the electoral system. Adopted in recent years, the regulatory acts have significantly simplified the procedure of registration, establishment of NGOs, further streamlining of the institutional framework of self-government bodies in their work with young people and women, support of employment and vulnerable groups, and others.

Analyzing the progress achieved, President Karimov touched upon the law on the openness of state authorities and administration, which was adopted in 2014 following an extensive legal experiment, and which caused big international response and appreciation of the expert community. The act has undoubtedly increased the responsibility of governing bodies for quality decision making.

Under the implementation of the ‘Concept of intensifying democratic reforms and forming the civil society in the country’, special attention has been paid to the issues of democratization and liberalization of the economy, creation of effective mechanisms of supporting small business and private entrepreneurship. More than 160, or 44% of licensing procedures, 19 or 25% of activities subject to licensing have been canceled in recent years under the laws on licensing procedures in business, on the competition, on guarantees of freedom of entrepreneurship (in new edition) and other legislative acts. The form and frequency of the statistical, tax and financial reports submitted by business entities to state authorities have been reduced 1.5 - 2 times.

There is a favorable environment for extensive development of family business - a new form of business, which is fully consistent with the traditions of the Uzbek people.

The speech highlighted the issues of national security in the face of growing geopolitical opposition, the escalating struggle for spheres of influence, radicalism, terrorism and extremism, the financial and economic crisis. In the context of the current situation, the President emphasized as follows: “... all of us need to soberly assess the situation, to mobilize all our forces and capabilities to face the challenges and make the appropriate changes and additions to our programs, especially the ‘Concept of intensifying democratic reforms and forming the civil society in the country’.”

The state’s leader identified the further consistent deepening of structural reforms, continuous technical and technological extension of manufactures, and introduction of latest information and communication systems as priority tasks. “Solely the rejection of outdated manufactures and plants whose products do not cause any interest in the international today, and will not cause the interest in the domestic market tomorrow, the construction of cutting-edge enterprises and high-tech systems, the engines of economic growth, as well as consistent implementation of well thought-out and balanced program of modernization of basic industries and infrastructure is the vital policy for today. It can and should create a reliable access to the world export market for us, ensure stable financial and economic growth, and the high level and quality of life of the population.”

Uzbekistan has achieved a significant progress in this field. The country has built absolutely new industries and high-tech manufactures from scratch. Our finished goods rank decent in the global market. Uzbekistan is proud of its car industry, including the manufacture of cars, trucks and specialized machinery, manufacture of engines and major component parts, as well as up-to-date agricultural machine engineering based on global designs, petrochemical and oil and gas industry, railway car engineering, consumer electronics, and pharmaceuticals.

President of Uzbekistan also drew attention to the most critical problem, the solution of which predetermines the prospects and the future of our country, the increase of the level and quality of life and well-being of our people. There is a need to remove all the obstacles and limitations, and provide a complete freedom for the development of private property and enterprise.

The country has achieved a significant progress in this direction. More than 31 thousand state owned companies in various sectors of the economy were transferred to private owners and shareholders. Many industries, such as agriculture, trade, all kinds of services, have been transferred into private property almost completely. The share of state ownership was minimized in the industries related to the consumer goods production like textiles, knitwear, leather and footwear, food, pharmaceuticals, furniture, as well as in the residential sector. The manufacture and service sectors take the lead in the performance and service growth rates.

The President has outlined some other objectives that must be addressed in the near future. There is a need to critically review and reduce the level of state involvement in the economy to strategically and economically reasonable extent. The objective assessment of the effectiveness of our corporate stock or associations requires the closest attention. As practice shows, a form of ownership when both domestic and foreign investors can be shareholders has proved to be most appropriate and suitable for Uzbekistan. Today, over four thousand ventures with foreign share from more than 90 countries successfully operate throughout the republic.

Most importantly, the domestic and foreign investors do not just invest and distribute profits, but also co-manage their enterprises. A foreign founder invests in a joint venture primarily through cutting-edge technologies, advanced management and control. So the country is ready to maximize the scope of such enterprises.

The grand meeting spotlighted the development of social infrastructure.

Annually, the name of the next year is declared in the hall of O’zbekiston Palace. This is a pivotal moment, because it paves the way to the adoption of the national program, which, in turn, vectors the further growth of living standards, enhancement of authority of our motherland in the international arena. As a rule, such documents address a wide range of relevant issues, which somehow affect the interests of each citizen.

500-600 thousand children are annually born in Uzbekistan. The care for their health, upbringing and education predetermines the future. The comprehension of this axiom makes it clear how important it was to name 2014 The Year of the Healthy Child in this grand hall a year ago. 4.7 trillion soums and $260 million have been invested from different sources to meet the tasks of the program (currency rates of CB RU from 15.12.2014 1$= 2409.67 soums).

Throughout the year, great importance has been attached to the improvement of reproductive health system, development of pediatric services. The national program on further strengthening of reproductive health, maternal health, children and adolescent health for 2014 - 2018 years has been approved.

Its implementation would contribute to growing our children physically healthy and spiritually mature, and generally bring the state youth policy to a higher level. The program has incorporated a wide range of different activities aimed at prevention of child morbidity and improvement of his health. For instance, it envisages the development of mother and child screening service. This year alone, owing to the timely identification of pathologies in screening centers, and appropriate treatment, more than 20 thousand children under risk were born healthy.

Certain steps have been taken in the current year to improve the efficiency of education and training. Particular attention was given to pre-school and primary education, since these stages are crucial in terms of child’s pursuit to knowledge, his willingness to learn and advance. The intensified introduction of advanced information and communication technologies, Internet, promotion of physical culture and sports among children, especially girls, has tangibly contributed to the progress.

Uzbekistan is a country of young people. People under 30 make up more than 60% of the population. That is why social programs of the previous years were mainly focused on children and youth. There is a century-old tradition of respect for elders, especially elderly people. So, it was decided to call the forthcoming 2015 the Year of Care for the Senior Generation. Coming up with the initiative, Islam Karimov said as follows: “It is the duty of each of us to constantly revere and care of our fathers, grandfathers, mothers, who are making an invaluable contribution to the establishment of peace, harmony and happiness in every family and stability in the society through their life experience, and by their own example, who are actively involved in the transformations in all spheres, especially in nurturing of a healthy generation in the spirit of our historical population, cultural values and good traditions.”

The trend is obviously important. Presently, there are more than 2.8 million people aged over 60 years, 225 thousand people - over 80 years, 44 thousand -older than 90 years in the country. 8,700 people have stepped over a 100-year threshold. Most importantly, the number of elderly people is increasing. In the years of independence, the average age of the population increased from 67 years in 1990 to 73.5 in men and 75.8 in women. A new social program is about to be approved. Talking about its aims and objectives, the head of state said: “When developing the program, we have to aim at addressing the existing problems concerning the life of the elderly, strengthening of material and moral support, in a word, we should practically meet the name we have given to the coming year.

Today, when we are establishing a working group to develop a new social program, it seems relevant to look back and review what has been done in recent years again. The currently functioning system should be the starting point for the further creation of better conditions for the full-fledged life of our mothers and fathers.”

A large-scale work is underway across the country to fully support the older generation. The government budget has allocated more than 11.6 trillion soums for state pensions, and more than 105 billion soums for allowances this year alone (currency rates of CB RU from 15.12.2014 1$= 2409.67 soums).

The President drew attention to the fact that currently the country’s pension exceeds 41% of the average wage. The President stressed that such a concern of the elderly is observed in quite few countries.

Representatives of the older generation are financially and morally supported by non-governmental organizations, social structures, and the scale of the support is constantly expanding. For instance, in 2013, the Nuroniy Foundation allocated 610 million soums for these purposes, and in the first nine months of 2014 - more than 553 million soums. The Mahalla Charity Fund supported veterans with over 1.5 billion soums in 2013, and with 1.6 billion soums in the first nine months of 2014.

Special needs of certain categories of elderly people are taken into account as well. For instance, this October a presidential decree introduced a regulation, which envisages granting 3,109 participants in the Second World War and 69,994 compatriot veterans of the labor front line with the opportunity to undergo free health rehabilitation in preventive and treatment institutions of the republic once a year at a time suitable for them.

Summing up the implementation of the national program The Year of the Healthy Child, President Islam Karimov emphasized that district medical associations, the Republican Specialized Center of Cardiology, cancer clinics and regional hospitals have been equipped with modern medical equipment by means of $28.5 million of credit and grant funds of foreign financial institutions. It is worth noting that 2014 has marked the beginning of large-scale projects to be continued next year. The projects are equally important for improving medical services for children and elderly people. For instance, up-to-date X-ray machines and ultrasound scanners will enable doctors in district health institutions to diagnose and prescribe treatment for many diseases in the place of residence.

Reconstruction and overhaul of medical institutions will continue to contribute to improving the quality of care in the communities. This year, such work, worth nearly 410 billion soums, has been carried out in 137 district and regional medical institutions.

Thus, the meeting has paved the way for new social initiatives aimed at further improving the quality of life and prosperity in Uzbekistan (currency rates of CB RU from 15.12.2014 1$= 2409.67 soums).

(Source: “Uzbekistan Today” newspaper)


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