On September 14, Tashkent’s Palace of Symposiums hosted an international conference organized at the initiative of President Islam Karimov. The forum has addressed the role and importance of small business and private entrepreneurship in the implementation of socio-economic policy in Uzbekistan.
The event was attended by representatives of a number of prominent international organizations and financial institutions, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the leading experts and business people from more than forty-five nations such as the United States of America, China, South Korea, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, along with representatives of diplomatic corps accredited in Uzbekistan.
The conference has been designed to evaluate the advanced practices in the development of small business and private entrepreneurship as a vital link in building a sustainable economy and spearheading social transformation. Also, the event has had the objective of familiarizing the international community with Uzbekistan’s achievements in the field.
The President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the international conference.
In the wake of independence, Uzbekistan opted for its own path of development and implementation of complex and wide-ranging reforms in all sectors, directed at building a democratic constitutional state with a socially oriented market economy. The potency of the “Uzbek model” of reforms and modernization of the country, based on the five principles defined by President Islam Karimov and the strategy of steadfast and phased transformation, is currently acknowledged duly throughout the world. A thoroughly thought-out socio-economic policy pursued by the head of our state and the evolutionary approach to reforms has come to be instrumental in making sure that this positive process comes out irreversible.
Suggestive of this argument, first and foremost, is the sustainable growth and advancement of our economy, which has preserved its margin of safety even during the global financial and economic downturn. In this regard, GDP growth rates in Uzbekistan for the last few years have averaged 8.2 percent. In its statement, the latest evaluation mission of the International Monetary Fund notes that Uzbekistan has secured a dynamic growth and coped well with the global financial crisis, and it forecasts that high economic growth rates will keep the pace in the medium term.
The principal goal pursued by the wide-ranging economic reforms in Uzbekistan is to build a robust and competitive national economy, and thus provide for a continuously increasing prosperity of people. Therefore, the leader of our country attaches special importance to modern market mechanisms, to ensuring their effectiveness and the development of small business and private entrepreneurship on this ground, which has become a key prerequisite for the formation of a strong sustainable market economy in the country. As President Islam Karimov stresses, a top priority in all the years of independence has been the creation of maximum favorable conditions, privileges and preferences, as well as comprehensive support for the accelerated advancement of small business and private entrepreneurship.
The growing share of small business and private entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan’s economy has been one of the pivotal forces behind flooding the domestic market with competitive and quality goods, the expansion of services to meet modern standards, the increasing share of products with higher added value in demand in world markets in the overall exports, the creation of new jobs, especially for young people, and ensure – through this – that incomes and wellbeing of the population are constantly on the rise.
In his speech at the conference, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Xiaoyu Zhao said that for the twenty one years of its independent development, Uzbekistan has made a remarkable progress and achievements that it can truly be proud of.
The leader of our state attaches immense significance to the consistent refinement of the normative framework to boost the entrepreneur-friendly business environment in Uzbekistan. The logic and coherence of the ongoing economic reforms, the dynamic development of all spheres and sectors, the rapidly changing conditions in the world markets have necessitated a greater liberalization of the system of economic management.
In the Concept of Intensifying the Democratic Reforms and Forming Civil Society in the Country, President Islam Karimov came up with a number of important legislative initiatives to facilitate even wider opportunities and freedoms for entrepreneurial activity. In accordance with them, a range of laws were adopted, including the one on guarantees of freedom of entrepreneurship in the new edition, on business competition, on amendments and addenda to some legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan in connection with the reduction of inspections in business entities.
In this regard, noteworthy has been the adoption of the law on family entrepreneurship at the initiative of the President. It has provided a legislative definition to a new form of entrepreneurship, namely, family business, and has established that the state stimulate this activity, regulate the rights and obligations of members of the family business and labor relations among them. This form of business that is fully consistent with national traditions and objective realities of doing business today is being widely promoted and fostered in our country. New jobs are being created, and people have a stable income, which in turn has been shoring up the wellbeing of families and, by extension, the entire the nation in general.
The country has taken extensive measures to consistently uplift the role and importance of small business and private enterprise in building up the capacities of the domestic economy. This is backed in particular by the fact that the year 2011 was declared the Year of Small Business and Private Entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan, with an ensuing state program for execution. In order for it to be implemented effectively, a number of new types of benefits and preferences for business entities and proper guarantees of protection of their rights and interests were reinforced in accordance with the presidential decree signed 24 August 2011 on additional measures to establish the maximum favorable business environment for the further development of small business and private entrepreneurship.
Procedures for their registration were simplified to a greater extent and made more transparent, and the Single Window mechanism was introduced. It now takes two days for entrepreneurs to obtain permission to open their business. Their connection to engineering and communications networks as well as the customs registration of exported goods has become easier and more convenient.
According to Janamitra Devan, Vice President of World Bank and International Finance Corporation for Financial and Private Sector Development, the effective support for small business is critical to secure economic growth. Uzbekistan has identified the support for the development of this sector as an essential condition for ensuring growth in the competitiveness and diversification of economy.
The conference contributors have noted that President Islam Karimov’s July 2012 decrees on measures to cardinally reduce the statistical, tax and financial reporting, the licensed types of activity and permission procedures, as well as the one on measures designed to cardinally improve the business environment and provide for more freedom of entrepreneurship have come to be another vital stride in the further perfection of business environment in Uzbekistan.
It was stressed during the conference that the system of lending to small business and private entrepreneurship entities is one of the key elements facilitating the dynamic development of this sector of economy. As the international practice demonstrates, the most effective of its mechanisms include micro-funding. In line with the May 5, 2006, Decree of the President of Uzbekistan, the Mikrokreditbank open stock commercial bank was instituted, which is included today in the list of top ten micro-lending banks of Central Asia and Europe. It helps the small business and private entrepreneurship entities, especially those in rural areas, to form the initial capital, to create new enterprises and jobs, to secure wider access to privileged loan resources to bolster their activities.
Small business constitutes the backbone of national economy in Uzbekistan, as it was suggested at the conference by Birama Sidibe, Vice President of Operations at the Islamic Development Bank. The IDB acknowledges that the support for this sector being provided in this country in order to elevate the sector’s competitiveness is the best strategy to create an environment conducive to socio-economic development, to promote employment and population welfare. Uzbekistan became member of the IDB in 2003. During the past period, the Bank has provided 923 million US dollars in total to fund thirty-four projects in priority directions, including those for the development of private sector. The IDB Vice President said the Bank is willing to continue with its support for Uzbekistan in consolidating small business and private entrepreneurship, an engine and locomotive of sustainable development.
Owing to the execution of complex measures dedicated to the further improvement of business environment, to the support for small business and private entrepreneurship, this sector has been gaining in significance in the structure of Uzbekistan’s economy, with the growing range and volumes of competitive goods production in the country. In the first half of 2012 alone, thirteen thousand new small business entities were created, the most of which operate in manufacturing sphere. In this period of time, more than 132 thousand entrepreneurs were invited to the system of public (government) procurement that is currently run by and large via electronic trade.
The formation of national economy able to properly compete in the world markets – with an eye to the priority of market relations and private property rights – is a constantly developing process and the one which has been gaining in importance. Today, small and private enterprises in Uzbekistan are working not merely in trade, services and processing of agricultural goods. Their share has been thriving also in the manufacturing sector, the production of science-intensive and hi-tech goods, including with the use of innovative, nano- and biotechnologies as well as information technologies. The opportunities have respectively been expanding for small business and private entrepreneurship entities to participate in foreign economic activity and the promotion of goods in foreign markets.
Taking a floor at the general session of the conference, the deputy director of UNDP regional bureau for Europe and the CIS Haolian Shu, the director of China Center for Economic Research Justin Lin, director of Berlin Academy of International Economics Hans-Joachim Knaupe, president of the Korean Corporation for Small and Medium Business (South Korea) Pak Cheol Kue, and other foreign experts and representatives of business circles gave high appreciation of the effects of economic reforms in Uzbekistan, of the successful measures taken to bolster the dynamic development of small business and private entrepreneurship. The international contributors to the conference expressed confidence in that the ongoing tremendous constructive efforts in Uzbekistan within the frameworks of priorities of socio-economic development defined by President Islam Karimov will prove a robust foundation for meeting the goal, namely, to join the ranks of economically advanced nations of the world and secure a further progress in the country.
Later on, the conference continued in the form of panel discussions. The participants addressed the following subject matters in detail: small business and private entrepreneurship as a stamina for diversification and sustainable development of economy, critical factors and conditions for the formation and development of small business and private entrepreneurship, normative guarantees and freedoms of entrepreneurial activity and private property rights protection, small business and private entrepreneurship as the basis and source for the formation of the middle class of property owners and in ensuring social stability in society, the role of small business and private entrepreneurship entities in enhancing the export capacities and international cooperation, fostering the private sector as a factor in the promotion of employment and growth in the population incomes.
An outlining document was approved on the outcomes of the forum.
The international conference has confirmed again that the “Uzbek model” of development and reforms and modernization of the country designed to building a democratic constitutional state with advanced market economy has been attracting keen interest in the international community. The circumstances and current developments have proved the correctness of the progress path chosen by Uzbekistan, and our country has been demonstrating its sweeping achievements and accomplishments to the rest of the world, boosting its image and authority in the international arena and opening up new opportunities to participate in global economic relationships.