26 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
August 28, 2015
24TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE OF UZBEKISTAN... The Holiday of Each of Us
24 years Uzbekistan has passed through the long way of independent development. Is that much or little? We ourselves can answer this question, because each of us has contributed to the establishment and formation of the young country, which in a bit above two decades has evolved into a country that amazes the world with its unique projects.
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE FUTURE
It would be no exaggeration to say that in 24 years Uzbekistan has passed the way that took hundreds of years in many countries. People are the main drive of this dynamic leap forward, as they realize that they do not want to live in the old wav and are ready to give their all to ensure a developed, democratic and free life for their children and grandchildren.
At the dawn of independence, the country faced many problems - it had to eliminate the obsolete administrative and command system and the planned distribution, achieve macroeconomic stability, issue the national currency, and build the industry and the banking system almost from scratch. It is important unlike many other post-Soviet countries, Uzbekistan did not take the easy path, and did not refuse from the social protection and guarantees for the population in the name of reforms. It was a time when people were positioned at the forefront of all changes, and the principle of \'The reforms are not for the sake of reforms, but in the name of the people\' became fundamental to all future strategic development programs.
Today, we can openly say that in late 1991 and early 1992 the republic found itself in the grip of severe deficiency caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The head of state declared the need to tackle the problem as soon as possible at the 10th session of the Oliy Kengash (Supreme Council) of the Republic of Uzbekistan of the 12th convocation in July 1992.
There is, perhaps, no one to reflect the complexity of the situation better than Islam Karimov. He became the ideologist of the national model of economic recovery, and took upon himself the responsibility of decisionmaking, not always popular, but very urgent for the country.
«After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we were challenged by the dilemma of how to meet our annual demand in six million tons of grain, and how to find the currency? It turned hard to sell our products at their cost price, and earn. Our largest businesses, which specialized on the supplies from other regions and countries, were on the verge of stopping. And we faced the challenge of feeding 21 million people. The problem of purchasing currency was particularly tough. The problems had to be solved in extreme conditions. The provision of the people, and our economy is threatened by great danger,» noted Islam Karimov.
It was a time when Uzbekistan vectored the two main thrusts of the domestic industry - the production of import-substituting and export-oriented goods, which have paved the way for the \'Made in Uzbekistan\' branded products to the global market. However, the attainment of the goals required addressing the primary objectives like ensuring grain, fuel and energy independence.
The agricultural and industrial sector of Uzbekistan has become a vivid example of creation of an integrated and effective system that completely ensured food independence for Uzbekistan. In the early 1990s, the import of flour and other foods required an average of $900 million annually. To date, the situation has changed radically - the needs of the domestic market are met by the domestically produced foods by 96%. Over the years of independence the consumption of meat per capita increased by 1.3 times, milk and dairy products - by 1.6 times, and processed fruit and vegetables - by almost 4 times. In the early 90s of the last century Uzbekistan exported food products only in five countries, while today exports go to more than 80 countries; exports of fruit juice has doubled, and food products increased an average of 1.5 times over the last decade.
The success was achieved by two key elements: the creation of a new class of farmers - farmers, armed with knowledge, experience and modern equipment, as well as technologically advanced processing plants and cold stores for the preservation of consumer properties of the foods grown. In the first years of independence 400,000 hectares of irrigated lands were allocated to 2.5 million families as small holdings, the monoculture of cotton was limited and areas under grain crops were increased. Manufactures have fully satisfied public demand for grain, flour, meat, milk, fruits and vegetables, and turned the grain importer into the grain exporter. Meanwhile, the local farmers go ahead - there are numerous farms that deal with not just growing crops, but with their processing and sales through their own store networks.
It is worth mentioning the specific features of domestic agriculture, which is based on irrigated agriculture, and therefore highly dependent on the uninterrupted water supply. Therefore, Uzbekistan has always been focusing on the introduction of water-saving technologies, amelioration of irrigated lands, and development of reclamation and irrigation facilities.
The domestic agricultural machinery has been concurrently evolving to supply farmers with high-quality and low-cost equipment. This was achieved through the integration of international quality standards into local manufacture, and involvement of the leading foreign companies as strategic partners. Today\'s market is represented by domestic companies and representatives of the world\'s leading agricultural machinery giants like the German Claas LEMKEN GmbH & Co, the American Case New Holland, so everyone can choose the machinery to his needs. The Uzbek side is currently negotiating with Russian, German, Austrian and Italian companies on the establishment of manufacture of a wide range of agricultural machinery and equipment in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has ambitious plans about fruit and vegetable processing, and food manufacture. By 2020, it is planned to carry out over 300 big projects worth $410 million, and 5,000 projects of district scale worth $500 million. That implies an additional 100,000 tons of industrial output and dozens thousands of new jobs, mostly in rural areas.
Concurrently with food provision, Uzbekistan developed a strategic program on the creation of secure fuel shield for the young republic. If it was not decided to build an oil refinery in Bukhara and reconstruct the Fergana refinery in the early 90s, Uzbekistan would face a tough fuel crisis. Today\'s fluctuation of the price of a barrel of oil around $40-50, and its stable tendency for decrease seems trivia l, while just four years ago the \'black gold\' cost $130, not to mention the gasoline and other products of its processing . As a result, foreign exchange savings were channeled to the implementation of big investment projects, many of which will be launched in the near future.
The pilot commissioning of the Ustyurt Gas Chemical Complex this September will be a true gift for the Independence Day. This project ranked among the top ten global investment projects in 2012. After reaching the full production capacity, the plant will annually process 4.5 billion cubic meters of gas and produce up to 387,000 tons of polyethylene and 83,000 tons of polypropylene. From a technological point of view, the complex promises to ranks among the world\'s most advanced plants. The introduction of new technologies would ensure extraction of up to 97% of ethane, propane, and other valuable components from natural gas.
In the next four years the oil and petrochemical industry is planning to increase the production and expand the range of products with high added value on the basis of deep processing of natural gas and gas condensate. It is planned to implement a total of 124 investment projects on upgrade, technical and technological extension of production, as well as 48 new promising projects involving foreign investors in the field of geology, fuel and energy complex, chemical, petrochemical and metallurgical industries. For example, Uzbekneftegaz has scheduled to upgrade and reconstruct the Bukhara refinery, gas and chemical complex in the Mubarek Gas Processing Plant, build a new plant of hydrocarbon pyrolysis on the basis of the feedstock or Ustyurt Gas Chemical Complex, the fourth section of the Uzbekistan-China pipeline, to expand the capacity of the Uzbekhimmash plant for the manufacture of bulky large-scale petrochemical equipment (Stage 2), to establish the production of plastic articles, purchase high-tech equipment for exploration works, and much more.
In general, it is expected that the implementation of all projects under the Program of Measures on Provision of Structural Reforms, Modernization and Diversification of Production for 2015-2019 will bring the oil and gas industry to a new level. According to estimates, the new production capacities will allow producing up to 8.55 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 83,000 tons of gas condensate, provide the conditions for transportation of nearly 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas, as well as the production of up to 361,200 tons of liquefied gas, 210,000 tons of polyethylene, 280,000 tons of polypropylene and significant volumes of other products, which can be obtained at the result of deep processing of gas and will be widely used both within the country and demand in foreign markets.
The creation of independent banking system based on the national currency of soum is another achievement of Uzbekistan in the years of independence. There is no exaggeration, because it has become one of the main attributes of a sovereign state, the main condition of economic stability. The importance of this decision became clear years later, during the global economic crisis which began in 2008, and its repercussions that still keep fevering markets of many countries. Uzbekistan withstood the negative impact of the crisis, avoided suspension of big investment projects, bankruptcy of industrial enterprises and job cuts. The huge merit goes to the sound financial system and stable soum. In this context, it is important to assess the scale of the reforms undertaken by Uzbekistan. In a short time the country had to create the necessary infrastructure from scratch; the shift to the national currency demanded certain economic conditions, long and careful preparation. Few countries in the world managed to do that in few years. The stability of the national currency and strengthening of its solvency was provided by the whole range of different programs, which allowed stabilizing the financial situation in the country in a short time, and laid the foundation for future success. Most importantly, Uzbekistan prevented economic collapse and took control over a sharp rise of inflation which was raging in other former Soviet republics, as well as managed to avoid mass unemployment.
The leading position of Uzbekistan in the region in terms of attracting foreign investment is one of the outcomes of the decisions taken those days. Uzbekistan invested 18.1 trillion soums of investments in the first half of 2015 with 9.8 percent growth YOY. Over the years of independent development the total amount of investments in the economy exceeded $190 billion, of which over $65 billion falls to foreign investment. Experts have predicted a record number for this year - $15.9 billion worth of investment. (currency rates of CB RU from 25.08.2015 1$= 2595,52 soums )
Being so different from each other, pharmaceutical and automotive industries represent a striking example of successful application of investment.
In the early 1990s, almost all medicines and medical supplies were imported into the country from abroad and only two local companies produced about 20 kinds of drugs, occupying 2% of the market share. The favorable investment climate, incentives and preferences have allowed radical changing of the situation. Today, more than 140 domestic pharmaceutical enterprises produce about 2,000 kinds of medicines, medical supplies and medical equipment. They have not just won the domestic market from the western counterparts, but have started exports. Uzbekistan exports 45 kinds of medicines and medical supplies manufactured by 17 domestic companies. The pharmacists have planned to carry out 23 different projects worth $100 million this year.
The domestic automotive industry can be fairly called as \'born by independence\'. The Central Asia\'s first Automobile Plant was opened in Asaka on July 19, 1996.
«Our independent state has been rapidly progressing, and the foundation of the automotive industry as the entirely new sector for our economy ranks among our first victories,» said President Islam Karimov, spearheading the formation of this sector of the national industry.
Today, the automotive industry of Uzbekistan can be called a locomotive of the entire industry of our country. It has given a new impetus to the development of related industries and sustainable employment growth. The sector represents the whole range of enterprises and organizations, which are merged by the O\'zavtosanoat Company and provide more than 27,000 jobs.
One article, and even the whole newspaper can hardly cover all the achievements of independence. It is vital to remember one thing - the independence is a part of each of us, and our deeds and actions determine the future of our beloved homeland.
(Source: «Uzbekistan Today» newspaper)