- Presidency of Uzbekistan in CIS in 2020
- 2020 year – the Year of development of science, education and digital economy
- The Strategy of Actions on Further Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan
- Central Asia - the priority of foreign policy of Uzbekistan
- Problems of water resources in the Central Asia
- Events at Uzbekistan's overseas missions
Address by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Oliy Majlis
Dear deputies and senators!
Esteemed fellow countrymen!
Ladies and gentlemen!
Our beloved Uzbekistan is stepping into a new decade. The achievements we have secured turned into history and enormous tasks and opportunities are emerging before us in terms of accomplishing the new changes.
In this regard, today along with you we must define priority directions and tasks of development of our country in 2020 and forthcoming five years.
As a result of the recent elections held under the motto «New Uzbekistan and new elections», a new political environment came into being in our country to take democratic reforms up to a new level.
In order to monitor elections are held openly and in accordance with international standards, 825 observers from nearly 50 states and 10 international organizations have observed them.
For the first time we have closely cooperated with full-scale mission of 316 observers from the Office on Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The international observers have underscored that the elections took place in an atmosphere of free competition, intense arguments and discussions among political parties, and that the role of mass media has tangibly grown in this process.
On behalf of our entire nation I express sincere gratitude to all international organizations for their fair assessments about elections and their recommendations.
We will certainly thoroughly study each of these recommendations, will adopt relevant program and will broadly introduce into practice.
In this context, it is one of the most important tasks for us to raise electoral awareness of election commissions and constituencies, further improve the system of engagement of political parties with their electorate and raise political activeness of political parties.
Along with this, we need to pay a special attention to optimize a three-stage system of elections to local councils and enhancing the role of district and municipal election commissions in this process.
In accomplishing tasks identified on the outcomes of elections the Parliament and Central Election Commission will have to work in close cooperation with one another.
I want to address all deputies and senators, and in their person, entire people of Uzbekistan: the path of democratic reforms is only one and rightest path for us.
In this endeavors, we are remaining in daily constant search by learning in-depth the best foreign practices and striving to renew the method of our work.
We have set a great goal which goes as follows: we will build new Uzbekistan along with our people. In this regard, the new idea «The society is an initiator of reforms» is further penetrating deep into our daily life activities.
We need to ensure so that our people should be more active and pro-initiative in increasing practical results of the reforms and advancing new initiatives on the ground.
Most importantly, as a result of these reforms we need to create prosperous and commendable living conditions for our people.
In order to ensure sufficient profits for our people we must create the most favorable business and investment atmosphere, increase the number of new enterprises and jobs.
If we are not going to address these pressing tasks ourselves, no one will come and tackle them for us.
Our people should know well the following: we are facing long and difficult path ahead.
If all of us come together, constantly study and learn, accomplish our work in a perfect and quality way, master modern knowledge and selflessly push ourselves ahead, certainly our lives and our society will change.
I strongly believe in this and I think you will also support this notion.
Dear participants of the joint session!
Thanks to the diligent labor of our people, in 2019 – «The year of active investments and social development» we have secured tangible results.
Alongside positive results in all spheres, the volume of investments also saw significant growth.
Especially, foreign direct investments made up 4,2 billion dollars and comparison with 2018, and I want to draw your attention to this figure, grew to 3,1 billion dollars or 3,7 times.
The share of investments in the gross domestic product composed 37 percent.
Our country for the first time obtained an international credit rating and successfully issued bonds in the world finance market in the amount of 1 billion dollars.
Uzbekistan’s credit risk rating by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has improved for the first time during the last decade.
Deep structural reforms were started in the spheres of energy, oil and gas, geology, transport, road construction, agriculture and water economy, potable water and heating supplies, as well as number of other branches of economy.
Modernization and competition reinforcement programs are being actively implemented in 12 leading sectors of the industry.
As a result, last year the economic growth made up 5,6 percent.
Volume of the production of industrial goods increased by 6,6 percent and export – by 28 percent.
Our gold and foreign currency reserves in 2019 increased to 2,2 billion dollars and reached 28,6 billion dollars.
We have been continuing our learning and research process in terms of increasing profits of farmers and peasants in agriculture. Advanced technologies and cluster system are being introduced to the sector.
We are channeling all our capabilities to actively develop entrepreneurship and create new conditions to this sphere.
We have allocated credits in the amount of 5,9 trillion soums to the families starting up with their businesses in the framework of the «Each and every family is an entrepreneur» program.
In the framework of the new tax policy the payroll tax was decreased to 1,5 times. As a result, during the year the number of persons working in the official sector increased to 500 thousand.
The value added tax rate was decreased from 20 percent to 15 percent.
As a result, last year 2 trillion soums remained with tax payers.
This year it is expected that this figure will make up 11 trillion soums. The fact that such sum will be at the disposal of entrepreneurs in one year alone will certainly serve for extending their businesses and create profound additional opportunities for them.
As a result of our reforms, last year 93 thousand or in comparison with the year 2018 two times more businesses were established in the country.
We have climbed up seven positions in the World Bank’s «Doing Business» rating and on the business registration index we have secured the eighth place among 190 states of the world and were recognized as among the top best reformer states.
Besides, as a result of introducing visa-free regime to the citizens of 86 states and simplified visas to the citizens of 57 countries, last year 6,7 million foreign tourists visited our country.
This means – compare to the year 2016 4,7 million or 3,3 times more tourists.
As a result of our reforms we have launched on developing the preschool education, last year 5 thousand 722 state, private and family kindergartens were established.
In the outcome, the volume of elementary school coverage of our children increased from 38 percent to 52 percent during one year.
In 2019 four Presidential schools and three Creativity schools with completely new substance and form began operating.
In order to develop the higher education, last year 19 new institutions of higher learning, and in particular, 9 branches of prestigious foreign universities were established.
In cooperation with leading foreign universities the training of cadres was put in place on 141 joint educational programs.
In total 146 thousand 500 or compare to 2016 two times more students were accepted to study at the higher education institutions.
The system of full payment of pensions to working pensioners was introduced. The volume of allowances for the socially vulnerable and the needy population increased two-fold.
In the sphere of healthcare alongside the state institutions the private medical services are seeing their rapid growth, as well.
Thanks to the growth in the types of medical treatment from 50 to 126 and number of rendered benefits, last year 634 private medical facilities were established.
In the framework of the «Obod qishloq» (‘Prosperous village’) and «Obod makhalla» (‘Prosperous neighborhood’) programs the large-scale construction and improvement works were carried out in 479 villages and auls, as well as 116 makhallas in towns and cities.
For these purposes we have spent 6,1 trillion soums or compare to the year 2018 1,5 trillion soums more.
We have built in the countryside area 17 thousand 100, in towns and cities – 17 thousand 600, in total 34 thousand 700 or in comparison with the year 2016 nearly three times more affordable and comfortable housing.
The initial installment in the amount of more than 116 billion soums was paid to 5 thousand less well-off families and those in need of improving housing conditions, and particularly, for women with disabilities – based on mortgage lending, to procure affordable housing.
Our reforms are being commendably acclaimed by the world community.
In particular, one of the prestigious magazines in the world – «The Economist» has recognized Uzbekistan as the Country of the Year in 2019 for undertaking the most rapid reforms.
I believe that you will support this idea too if I say that such a recognition accords to all of us a profound pride, esteem and strength, as well as inspires us to secure new horizons.
By critically analyzing the work we have accomplished last year, I would like to emphasize the following conclusions.
First, the heads of all levels must not relax by staring at the achieved preliminary positive indicators.
The end goal of the activity of new Parliament and the Government for the forthcoming 5 years must be raising the living conditions of our multi-national people residing in Uzbekistan.
In this regard, by addressing our deputies I want to say the following.
It is necessary to elaborate clear-cut programs and roadmaps on tackling pressing issues raised by the population during the pre-election campaign meetings and ensure their full implementation in cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies.
Otherwise, a deputy will lose his respect before electors, who have laid trust in him/her, with the status of the party seeing its downfall.
Since, today both the way of thinking, the worldview, the demands and needs of our people have completely changed. Our people are cleverer and greater than everyone.
Second, in increasing quality of the governance system we need to accomplish a lot to ensure full implementation in practice of the basic principle which goes as follows: «It is not the people who should serve the state bodies but it is the state bodies that should serve the people».
The fact that more than 1 million applications are being filed with the Virtual and People’s reception offices requires taking dialogue with the population up to a new level.
From now on, it will be put in place the system of regular hearing in the parliamentary sessions and sittings of the people’s deputies of the reports on how the heads of state bodies and khokims (governors and mayors) are addressing these appeals.
Hereinafter the way of distributing additional incomes of local budgets, fair identification of receivers of pensions and assessing the work of heads of executive bodies shall be evaluated based on the analysis of applications filed with the People’s reception offices.
Each and every deputy should constantly work along with People’s reception offices, actively participate in tackling the problems of people residing in their constituent territories and listen to the pressing issues voiced by people.
In such a way the deputies will act on their promises given to electors, will justify people’s trust and will gain their respect.
In such a way me as well, let alone as President, but as an ordinary elector, would be very grateful to you.
Third, as we have set as our goal to turn Uzbekistan into a developed country, we can achieve this only through active reforms, science and education, and innovations.
For this purpose, above all, we must nourish new generation of knowledgeable and skilled cadres, who will come on the scene as initiative reformers and those with a strategic thinking.
It is therefore that we have embarked on reforming all layers of education – starting with a kindergarten and up to an institution of higher learning.
In order to raise knowledge and awareness of not only the youth, but our entire society we need, first of all, knowledge and enlightenment, and higher spirituality.
At a place with no knowledge there will be lagging behind, ignorance, and certainly, going astray from the right path.
The wise men of the East noted as follows: «The biggest wealth is knowledge. The biggest heritage is good upbringing. The biggest misery is no-knowledge»!
It is therefore that mastering contemporary knowledge and attempting to be a genuine person of education and higher culture must turn into continuous life’s demand for all of us.
In order to achieve progress, we must master digital knowledge and modern information technologies.
It will allow us to traverse along the shortest route of progress.
Since, at present the information technologies are deeply penetrating all spheres in the world.
Despite the fact that in 2019 our country has climbed up 8 positions in the «International ICT development index», we are still lagging very behind.
It will also be true to say that most of the ministries and agencies, enterprises are far away from digital technologies.
Certainly, we know well that in order to form a digital economy, the necessary infrastructure, vast funds and labor resources are required.
However, no matter how difficult it will be, if we are not going to embark in this work, then when we will do so? It will be quite late tomorrow.
Therefore, to actively transit to digital economy will be one of the most priority tasks for us in the forthcoming five years.
The digital technologies will not only raise the quality of products and services, but also will reduce extra expenditures.
Along with this, it is also an effective tool to eradicate the evil of corruption – the most terrible evil which makes me most troubled and much concerned. All of us should clearly comprehend this.
Broad introduction of digital technologies into state and social governance as much as into social sphere will make it possible to increase a result outcome, and in a word, can radically improve living conditions of people.
With a view of consistently continuing and taking up to a new and modern level the work we have started to develop the sphere of science and enlightenment, upbringing our youth to be the personalities with deep knowledge, high culture and spirituality, forming competitive economy I propose to announce 2020 in our country as the «Year of development of science, education and digital economy».
I thank all of you for supporting this proposal.
In order to comprehensively reform and develop the sectors and spheres enunciated in the naming of the year, we will have to accomplish a large-scale work.
In particular, this year we must raise the level of coverage of children with preschool education up to 60 percent. We will allocate 1,8 trillion soums from budget for these purposes. For the first time in our country the system of preparing kids to school from the age of 6 will be introduced. We will allocate for these purposes 130 billion soums from the budget. The private preschool educational institutions shall also participate in this process.
In 2020 thanks to allocation of 1,7 trillion budget soums we will build 36 new schools and overhaul 211 schools. It is also envisaged to establish 55 private schools with taking their total number to 141.
We will introduce the system of progressive wages for teachers with big pedagogical skills and relevant qualification, and known to have achieved concrete results in their activities.
It is necessary to improve school curricula based on advanced foreign experience, revise curricula load and disciplines being taught at school, bring them in line with international standards and increase quality of books and school literature.
In order to prepare to introduce the international system of school education assessment in Uzbekistan in 2021, we will identify 348 basic schools with raising qualifications of over 6 thousand teachers.
From this academic year completely new system of professional education will be introduced. We will establish 340 professional schools, 147 colleges and 143 technical schools.
In order to ensure qualifications of cadres correspond to the requirements of international labor market we need to draft the National Qualification System which will allow training cadres almost on 9 thousand professions.
We ought to create all conditions for our youth which strives to obtain higher education, self-improvement and wants to dedicate themselves to science. Therefore, we will ensure coverage of graduates of schools with higher education at least up to 25 percent in 2020 and up to 50-60 percent in the future.
It is necessary to note that increasing coverage with higher education must not be undertaken at the expense of paid and contract-based education.
What do you say if we increase two-fold the share of state scholarships (grants) for entering institutions of higher learning?
The separate grants will be allocated to girls. The Women’s Committee shall elaborate the criteria of selection of candidatures for studies based on such scholarships (grants).
It is necessary to optimize entrance examinations to higher education institutions, pay a special attention to simplification of acceptance conditions and teaching by higher education institutions of truly in-demand knowledge.
Thus, we need to institute the national testing system of evaluation of knowledge of mother tongue. Having noted that, a student will have an opportunity to pass this exam at any time and receive a certain certificate. As a result, there will be no need to pass through native language test once again in filing applications to an institution of higher learning.
Based on foreign experience we will improve higher education standards and revise its directions and structure of subjects being taught. The number of subjects, which doesn’t have relation to profession being sought, shall be reduced two-fold.
We must switch to credit and module system in higher education. From this year a three-year term of study was identified for six directions of pedagogical education. Such changes will be carried out in other directions, as well.
The higher education institutions will step-by-step receive academic and financial independence. This year 10 higher education institutions will switch to self-financing.
Besides, on a contest-based method we will identify at least five institutions of higher learning and along with advanced foreign educational institutions we will start to transform them.
We will have to identify concrete priorities in the sphere of science.
Not a single state is capable to develop all branches of science at a time. Therefore, each year we will pay attention to development of several important directions.
This year we will take measures to actively develop fundamental and applied research in such areas as mathematics, chemistry, biology and geology. All conditions will be created for scientists. It is also necessary to radically revise mechanism of allocating targeted grants for fundamental and innovative research.
We should form electronic platform of scientific achievements, the database of domestic and foreign scientific developments.
Each higher educational and science and research institution should establish cooperation with advanced foreign universities and scientific centers.
This year we will send abroad through «El-yurt umidi» Foundation over 700 scientists and teachers to conduct scientific research and raise qualifications.
In the future we need to increase number of scholarships two times and expand directions of research.
In 2020 we must undertake a breakthrough in developing digital economy. Firstly, we need to fully digitize the spheres of construction, energy, agriculture and water economy, transport, geology, healthcare, education, cadastre and archiving.
Along with this, we need to critically revise the system of Electronic Government as well as programs and projects being implemented in its framework, and comprehensively address all organizational and institutional issues.
At the moment, the IT-Park with a modern infrastructure is being created in Tashkent. We are already seeing the initial results of its work. Such IT-Parks are also going to be established in Nukus, Bukhara, Namangan, Samarkand, Gulistan and Urgench.
In order to train highly-qualified specialists in the area of information technologies, along with our foreign partners we have launched a «1 million programmers» project.
The modern information technologies must be introduced at all stages of the education system.
Taking into account that last year we have completed the work in terms of switching all towns and district centers to high-speed Internet, in the nearest two years we should provide such an opportunity for all villages and auls. At present, the high-speed Internet access is enjoyed by more than 7 thousand institutions of healthcare, preschool and school education, and in two years’ time their number will increase to 12 thousand.
Taking all these tasks into account, we need during two months’ time to complete developing «Digital Uzbekistan – 2030» program. Further, to coordinate this work on a systemic basis separate posts of a deputy Prime minister, deputy heads of ministries and agencies, and khokims (‘governors and mayors’) on the ground will be created.
The Parliament must regularly hear the reports of the Government, heads of branches and regions about the work being carried out to develop science, education and digital economy.
Dear members of parliament!
Now allow me to dwell on the program and targeted tasks in the economic sphere which we must accomplish in 2020 and later years.
First, in 2020 our main task will be to ensure macroeconomic stability and contain inflation in the process of economic reforms.
Starting from this year we have embarked on introducing the system of inflation targeting. In this work the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Central Bank and Ministry of Finance must provide for balance of economic growth and inflation, and consider external risks.
At present, the state regulates prices for 37 types of commodities and services, and this negatively affects free competition. In this regard, from now on main attention shall be paid not to identifying prices but reducing them and raising product quality thanks to healthy competition among enterprises.
Based on learning foreign experience we need to open up ways to private sector in the monopoly spheres where the conditions can be created for competition and shaping competitive environment. In this context, it is necessary to renew laws on natural monopolies and competition, as well as design Competitive environment strategy.
The only way of ensuring steady prices for food products in the consumer market is to increase volumes of horticultural, animal and other food products, as well as create effective continuous chain «field – shopping counter». The government along with bodies of power on the ground must ensure implementation of this task.
We must reinforce supervision over purposeful and reasonable use of budget funds.
This year we have identified threshold upper limit of public external debt. From now on a serious attention shall be paid to studying cost recovery and effective use of loans of international financial organizations.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall be tasked in a three-month’s time to develop along with international experts the draft laws «On state financial control» and «On public debt».
Unless we eradicate the «shadow economy», which seriously hinders our reforms, we cannot even speak about forming healthy competition and favorable investment climate.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall in a two-month’s time along with foreign specialists thoroughly analyze factors that serve for emergence of the «shadow economy» and approve program of containing it.
At present, in order to bring order in the alcohol and tobacco market we have started to introduce the digital marking of goods. Later we will use such a system in the sphere of pharmaceutical product turnover, as well.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall be tasked to take to its special control the project of introducing digital marking and online cash registers which is being implemented thanks to foreign direct investments in the amount of 200 million dollars.
Second, in order to develop economy with high rates we need to consistently continue active investment policy.
This year we will disburse investments in the amount of 23 billion dollars with commissioning 206 new large production facilities. In particular, we will commission production capacities of liquid synthetic fuel at the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex and the nitrogen acid, ammonia and carbamide – at the «Navoiazot» Joint-Stock Company.
We are planning to commission the Tashkent Metallurgical Plant, Sergeli branch of the Tashkent subway and complete the first stage of construction of over-ground belt subway.
I want to underscore that significant part of investments to be disbursed in 2020 will make up foreign direct investments and credits.
In order to support investors we are introducing mechanisms of extension for tax payments and partly reimbursement by state of the expenditures for infrastructure.
Along with this, we have expanded the practice of deductions of expenses in calculation of an income tax meant for procurement of new technological equipment, construction and modernization of new facilities.
We have to undertake stock-taking of about 3 thousand enterprises with a state share in them and take measures to radically reduce state’s participation in the spheres where private sector and competition are developing.
We need to implement new investment projects at such strategic facilities as Navoi and Almalyk mining and smelting enterprises and turn them into full-scale participants of the international financial market. For this purpose in 2020 we need to complete preparation of financial reports based on international standards, reassessment of reserves and introduce modern corporate management.
In the oil and gas sphere along with foreign experts we should raise efficiency of state enterprise management, optimize expenses and achieve reduction of debts.
Taking these tasks into account the Cabinet of Ministers shall in a two-month’s time develop the Strategy of management and reforming enterprises with state participation.
In order to actively attract foreign investments we need to hold at high organizational level in March this year the Tashkent International Investment Forum.
The mechanism of public private partnership is one of the effective means to attract investments. It should be broadly introduced to the spheres of transport, energy, road construction, public utilities, medicine, education and other areas.
At the moment, the construction industry became one of the important drivers of economy. This is also confirmed by the fact that its share in the gross domestic product increased 6 percent. In order to further develop this industry we need to harmonize norms and rules in the sphere of construction with international standards, introduce modern construction technologies and materials, and radically reform the system of cadres training.
Along with this, we should develop concrete criteria of holding bids and actively apply the information technologies in this system.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall in a two-month’s time draft a strategy of development of construction industry for up to 2025.
Third, we need to take decisive measures this year to develop banking system.
Unfortunately, the banking system lags behind for 10-15 years from modern requirements in terms of development of digital technologies, introduction of new banking products and software.
Starting from 2020 the large-scale transformation program will be implemented in each bank.
The goal to increase capital and resource basis, as well as profit-making capacity of banks will be in the focus of our attention.
We need to put in place the activity of the «project factory» in the banking system aimed at supporting entrepreneurs.
Our banks must go to international financial markets, attract accessible and long-term resources. It is expedient to the National Bank and «Ipotekabank» to issue «Eurobonds» this year.
The banks with a state share will be sold step-by-step to strategic investors.
The major goal of reforms in the banking sphere is to teach commercial banks to be more client-oriented in their operations.
With a view of training contemporary cadres, the Banking-Financial Academy will be fully reorganized along with foreign specialists.
In order to introduce modern banking practices, management and new banking services, we have started to attract qualified specialists from leading foreign financial institutions to managing positions. We will continue our work in this direction.
The software of banks should be entirely renewed by way of actively introducing modern information technologies.
Until July 1 this year it is necessary to fully launch the information system of «credit histories».
It is important to form trust of the population towards banking system and not to allow for interference in the activity of banks from aside.
Fourth, production of competitive products, search for new international markets and increasing exports and full-scale use of transit potential serve as a guarantee for sustainable economic growth.
This year we will establish the Fund for Exports Support aimed at rendering exporters a guarantee of payment and compensate part of their expenses, as well as the Export-Credit Agency which will organize pre-export financing.
It is envisaged to introduce contemporary export insurance services, mechanisms of compensations by state of a part of expenses for the use of automobile and air transport.
We need to improve the system of control and infrastructure in the sphere of external trade. In particular, based on foreign experience we should reform the activities of sanitary, quarantine, veterinary and other agencies, which carry out control at customs checkpoints.
In 2020 we will have to pass about 3 thousand standards and take their number up to 10 thousand and the level of correspondence to international standards – up to 40 percent.
In Andijan, Termez and Kungrad districts we are envisaging to establish free trade zones and develop cross-border trading through them.
The identification of in-demand types of products, search for markets and realization of products must be carried out by private trading companies. For this purpose we need to develop package of laws which regulate their operations.
This pertains both to trading at domestic and external markets.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall in a month’s time develop the concept for regulating foreign economic activity and take relevant measures in terms of ensuring implementation of these tasks.
In order to timely take our products to external and domestic markets and reduce their prime cost, we need to develop the sphere of transport and logistics.
In the rail-road sphere we need to separate transportation of passengers and cargo, operations and services, i.e. we should define natural monopoly part of it and separately develop very directions where the private sector can be attracted to.
According to international experts, thanks to improving infrastructure, ensuring transparency of tariffs and launching new routes the transit potential of our country could be taken from current 7 million tons up to 16 million tons.
I want to draw your attention to yet another important issue.
In order to raise incomes of our population, create additional jobs and increase production we need new markets.
At present we are adopting many laws and decisions considering the requirements of modern market economy. However, unfortunately, many heads responsible for their implementation still cannot get rid of old methods of work, careless and formal approach.
The open market dictates the need to raise product quality, reduce prime cost, attract new technologies and advance market reforms. Consequently, we must fit into the international product chains, correspond to labor market requirements and step in line with economic integration.
In order to be ready to dialogue and competition in the international market, the heads of industries must scrupulously refine themselves.
Taking all these factors into account, we well understand the need to expand economic integration.
At present, 80 percent of our foreign trade cargo is shipped by transit through Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Having said that, 50 percent of exports of finished products and in some positions – more than 80 percent of goods are exported to these countries.
Taking this into account, as well as with a view of creating favorable conditions for our citizens, who are working in Russia and Kazakhstan, at the moment we are scrutinizing the issue of putting in place Uzbekistan’s interaction with the Eurasian Economic Union. Certainly, in this serious issue we shall proceed, firstly, from the interests of our people and shall rely on its will. Therefore, our deputies and senators, who are the representatives of people, must comprehensively discuss this issue in the chambers of parliament and with full responsibility enunciate their substantiated position.
The Cabinet of Ministers needs to complete analysis and comprehensive assessment of this issue and on its outcomes introduce relevant conclusions and proposals to the chambers of Oliy Majlis.
Along with this, we will continue our dialogue with the World Trade Organization and the work with the European Union on the new Agreement on extended partnership and cooperation.
We will also develop our participation in other international and regional economic organizations.
Fifth, it is necessary to continuously ensure the sectors of industries with raw and create relevant modern infrastructure.
In order to provide a number of important branches of economy with raw, including chemical, oil and gas, energy, electrical engineering industry, production of construction materials and jewelry industry, firstly, we need to bolster activities in the sphere of geological exploration.
This year we will channel 2 trillion soums from budget for exploring prospective areas and increasing proven reserves of mineral raw.
The State Committee for Geology shall, by effectively using these funds, explore this year by 35 percent more new prospective areas and deposits, and next year – increase by 40 percent more.
The State Committee for Geology along with the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade shall form a package of ready projects on no less than 20 deposits for attracting potential investors for their development.
Along with this, the State Committee for Geology must introduce the international system of record-keeping, classification and management of hydrocarbons and their reserves.
In order to ensure economic growth it is extremely important to create modern and effective infrastructure. During forthcoming three years we will channel 9,8 trillion soums for construction of roads, 4,6 trillion soums – construction of water supply networks, 18,2 trillion – building electrical power-lines and 1,2 trillion – natural gas supplies. This financing is bigger several-fold as compared to the last ten years.
At the same time, we need 10 times more funds for creating modern infrastructure and modernization of available systems. No matter how difficult it will be, we shall annually allocate funds in the framework of investment programs and shall surely continue our work in this direction.
Along with this, channeling of half of the over-prognosis earnings of the republican and local budgets to the development of infrastructure must become one of the main tasks of the Ministry of Finance and khokims (‘governors and mayors’) this year. It is expedient along with Legislative Chamber and Chamber of Accounts to examine on the ground purposeful and effective use of these funds.
Sixth, further improvement of business environment remains as one of the most important tasks.
We are taking all organizational and legal measures to join the top 50 countries in the World Bank’s «Doing Business» rating.
The Government must ensure effective implementation of relevant measures.
According to the recently adopted Tax Code, many novelties are being introduced starting from this year. In particular, the types of taxes were reduced from 13 to 9. The simplified mechanisms of payment of taxes with a possibility of grace period (delay) or extension were introduced.
We are introducing for the first time the order of returning part of the value added tax to entrepreneurs in selling the product. So far, this procedure applied to goods export only.
Thanks to this, funds in the amount of 3,4 trillion soums, which is 2,5-fold more compared to last year, shall remain at the disposal of entrepreneurs.
Now, should the excessive tax paid by an entrepreneur not be refunded on time, interest shall be paid to this amount on to the basic rate of the Central Bank.
I believe that entrepreneurs, who are sitting in this hall today and watching this address on TV, understand the true essence of this best of all.
Each tax official, entrepreneurs and taxpayers should closely embrace the provisions of the Tax Code and to this end they should regularly be trained.
In order to drastically change the worldview and train qualified tax service staff, I propose to establish a Fiscal Institute under the State Tax Committee.
High profile foreign experts need to be involved in this process.
At the same time, we will substantially change the license and permission granting procedures which is the one area which upsets entrepreneurs a lot.
We should openly admit that among 280 license and permissions there are the ones which are intended only for keeping the record of activity types, collecting funds or mere «controlling».
And this causes justified complaints by entrepreneurs.
In this regard, the Ministry of Justice, the Commerce and Industry Chamber and the Business Ombudsman shall until March 1, 2020 radically revise the current grounds of license and permission granting and submit a specific proposal on reducing their number by 2 times.
A Law «On small and medium business» needs to be drafted, as well.
It should include the criteria of small and medium business, as well as mechanisms of incentivizing of representatives of this sphere.
This year we will introduce a new system for openly and accurately communicating to entrepreneurs the information on available land plots in each region.
This system will enable to receive online a full map of available land plots, buildings and facilities, their cost and terms needed for entrepreneur’s activity.
You are well aware that a moratorium imposed two years ago on inspecting financial and economic activity of enterprises has expired.
However, it doesn’t mean that widespread inspections can be renewed again in an old style.
Whether someone likes it or not, but we will not allow this. All heads of controlling bodies must be very careful.
In the first quarter of 2020, a new modern system must be introduced at all levels of controlling bodies based on advanced practices.
A separate work should be carried out in terms of each enterprise and entrepreneur and the legality of the activities should be ensured, while an inspection should be the last resort and conducted fairly.
Heads of controlling agencies shall personally report to the Parliament on a quarterly basis on this matter.
The current bankruptcy procedures provide for liquidation of enterprises and repayment of debts at the expense of proceeds received from selling its property.
Therefore, the bailout was provided to 3 companies only for over the last 3 years.
From now on we will abandon this rule and introduce a new bailout system to rehabilitate insolvent companies on the basis of advanced foreign practices.
Both chambers of the Oliy Majlis should put in place an effective parliamentary control to ensure the rights of entrepreneurs.
We should consistently continue the practice of excluding some types of crimes with low social danger from felony offences.
In particular, criminal liability will be abolished for such conduct as pseudo-entrepreneurship and discrediting the competitor.
In addition, persons who violated customs documents for the first time, but made the necessary payments should also be exonerated from criminal liability.
The time has come to abandon the long obsolete practices when members of an economic entity with a status of a legal person would be heavily sentenced on a charge of «criminal group».
If we take into account that hundreds of entrepreneurs endure hardships and suffer financial losses, enormous significance of such changes will become yet more vivid.
Until April 1, 2020, the Supreme Court, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Commerce and Industry Chamber and the Ministry of Justice shall thoroughly draft a law covering these matters.
Seventh, the agriculture, which is one of the key sectors ensuring the growth of our economy, employment and incomes of the population, must be developed on the basis of strategic approaches.
The current growth rates in this sphere are not acceptable at all. Unless we broadly introduce market mechanisms, increase the interest and incentives to farmers, we will not achieve the expected changes.
Therefore, we shall abolish the state order to cotton and grain growing and gradually switch to market-based procuring of these products.
Unless we choose this path, our farmers will not be free in choosing what to grow, they will not gain benefits they expect and the work-style of khokims (‘governors and mayors’) will not change.
The Fund for state support of agriculture will be reformed and soft loans will be provided to other sectors of agrarian sphere.
In the future, the Ministry of Agriculture must abandon the old work style which involved giving orders, distribution of resources and setting plans.
Instead, the Ministry should turn into a service organization, providing private agro industry organizations with such services as determining land conditions, selecting plant and seed types, pest control, financial support and product marketing.
In the agrarian sector we will continue supporting the farmer movement and our efforts in terms of gradual switch to cluster form of cotton and grain growing.
We will continue the work on establishing modern type clusters in fruit and vegetable farming, rice-growing, cattle breeding, silkworm breeding and other sectors.
Measures must be taken to cardinally increase productivity to ensure 2 billion dollars worth of export this year and increase this amount to 3-4 times within the next 5-7 years.
Early adoption by the parliament of the new Law «On cooperatives and clusters», which is a legal framework of our reforms, will match our big plans and aspirations.
This year, 3 trillion soums will be allocated for the development of fruit and vegetable farming, vine-growing, seed breeding, animal husbandry, agro-logistics, broad introduction of water-saving technologies, research and development, and staff training.
The cattle, karakul, fish and poultry breeding will be in the focus and new mechanisms of state support will be applied.
In 2020 the water-saving technologies will be introduced at 44 thousand hectares of land which is 4 times more compared to last year.
Three hundred billion soums of subsidies will be allocated from state budget for these purposes.
In addition, the water facility management processes, as well as water control and account system should be automated.
These issues should be reflected in the Concept of development of water management. The Cabinet of Ministers shall submit the draft Concept for approval until April 1 this year.
Eighth, turning tourism into a strategic sector of the economy will remain a priority task for us.
One of the government’s key tasks is to increase the number of tourists visiting our country to 7,5 million this year.
It is a known fact that a number of influential foreign media included Uzbekistan among must to visit countries.
We should take advantage of such an opportunity.
We must also actively develop pilgrimage and medical tourism which have great potential as well.
Our country boasts over 8 thousand 200 sites of cultural heritage, while only 500 of them are included in tourist routes.
In three month time, the government shall identify measures to increase to 800 the number of sites of cultural heritage along perspective pilgrimage and traditional tourist routes.
Yet another task is to accelerate the efforts to include new sites located in Uzbekistan into the UNESCO World Heritage List and Intangible Heritage List.
Tourism infrastructure should be dynamically developed this year by means of allocating 200 billion soums from state budget for the construction of modern hotels.
Ninth, urbanization processes should be accelerated while regions be developed on an integrated basis and living standards of the population improved.
Within the framework of this work, 12 satellite towns adjacent to 7 large cities including Andijan, Bukhara, Samarkand, Karshi, Ferghana, Namangan and Nukus will be selected and comprehensive measures identified on their integrated development.
Yet another interlinked issue – there is a disparity between the areas where the majority of labor force resides and where new jobs are being created.
Its solution is liberalization of domestic migration.
In this regard, the Parliament and the Government should study the best international practices to reform the system of residence permit and develop specific proposals until April 1, 2020.
It is impossible to fully meet the people’s needs for housing without attracting private sector to housing construction. Therefore, a new mortgage loan system is to be introduced.
In this regard, some 18 thousand residential buildings in regional cities and Tashkent, as well as 4 thousand houses in countryside areas will be constructed by private sector companies.
In order to ensure fair competition among banks, the state will allocate funds in the amount of 4 trillion soums among them through auctions.
To provide support to low-income population, 1 trillion soums of subsidies will be allocated from state budget, to cover the initial payment and loan interests of 16 thousand families.
My biggest aspiration is that each and every person in our Homeland has their own «small motherland» – their home. Thereby we will please our people and thus the Almighty will be pleased with us.
Distinguished participants of the session!
We will continue the large-scale reforms which we have been implementing for over the last three years to radically improve the lives of the people on the basis of the principle «Human interests are above all».
First, to this end improving the people’s well-being and social protection will remain one of our core tasks.
It is an open secret that in the regions, especially, in the countryside areas, majority of the population doesn’t have source of sufficient income.
Like in any other country, we also have strata of low-income population.
According to some estimates, they account for approximately 12-15 percent.
We are not speaking about small numbers here, but rather about 4-5 million of our people.
Some people think that we can address this problem by paying or increasing the amount of social pension and financial support benefit.
It is a one track approach which doesn’t allow resolving the problem in full.
Addressing poverty is promoting the spirit entrepreneurship among the population, tapping a person’s inner strength and potential in full, pursuing an integrated economic and social policy in terms of job creation.
Therefore, I propose to develop a Poverty reduction plan jointly with the World Bank and UNDP.
A new methodology needs to be developed through deep studies based on international standards which would cover the definition of poverty, its identification and assessment criteria.
In addition, we should gradually spread to all regions a positive experience in terms of providing the population with modern entrepreneurial and business skills which started in 22 village districts of Fergana Valley.
A priority should be given to supporting entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at addressing social problems on the ground, especially, youth’s and women’s entrepreneurship.
To this end, the population and entrepreneurs will be provided a wide access to micro-financing services, financial resources and public procurement.
Through such measures, our people’s interest and confidence in entrepreneurship will increase, they will strive for receiving more income.
At the same time, not everyone can become an entrepreneur. Therefore, they should be engaged systemically, retrained and provided with a decent job.
Seven hundred million dollars will be attracted for these purposes.
We should fully support the entrepreneurs creating new jobs and raise them over our heads if you will.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall draft in two month time a law on the basics of social entrepreneurship and measures for its incentivizing.
In addition, the government must ensure creation of 500 thousand new jobs this year in the framework of state programs and through developing entrepreneurship.
I would like underscore that new entrepreneurial entities and jobs created in each sector, sphere, region and district will be the main criterion in assessing the activity of heads of these regions.
Throughout the year, the increase in wages, student allowances, and benefits will exceed the inflation rates.
Comprehensive system of social pension must be introduced, in particular, the coverage of support to low-income families must be expanded and targeted use of budgetary funds be ensured.
In addition, pension award criteria should be revised and an open and fair system should be created with critical revision of the role the makhalla in this regard.
In general, if people approach a single office for social pension, this office should be able to do all the paperwork and find a solution to the situation in one day.
A system will be created which will require only a passport for awarding a pension to retiring citizens.
To this end, the state archive system must be digitalized in the first place.
This year an integrated and efficient system needs to be put in place for engaging and providing social support to elderly, particularly, the lone elderly.
The amount of social benefits provided to them should also be revised.
A separate program needs to be developed for social integration of inmates of «Mekhribonlik uyi» orphanages, particularly, in terms of providing them with jobs and housing in the future.
Since these children must always feel that the state and society will take care of them, be their caring support and buttress.
Disability, burial ceremony, breadwinner-loss, and industrial injury benefits and allowances must be revised and a Law “On Social insurance” needs to be drafted.
In two month time, the Cabinet of Ministers shall develop a Concept of social protection of the population, and define priority tasks based on the foregoing directions.
Second, we will steadfastly continue our reforms in terms of developing public healthcare system, improving the quality of medical services.
We need to take practical measures in order to enhance doctors’ prestige and status in society, strengthen people’s respect to them, create decent work conditions and increase their incomes.
One point five trillion soums or 1,3 time more compared to last year will be allocated to public medical facilities and providing the population with medicines and medical supplies.
One point one trillion soums will be allocated from budget for construction and reconstruction of 281 medical facilities.
In addition, a modern management system needs to be introduced at 17 specialized scientific-practical medical institutions.
Measures need to be taken to further develop private medicine on public- private-partnership basis, strengthen fair competition, and primarily, attracting foreign investors to specialized medical centers.
The time has come to improve the quality of hematologic and virologic assistance, drastically reform the system of medical services to such difficult-to-treat patients.
We need to increase funding for early diagnosis of blood and virologic diseases, training qualified hematologists, virologists, and immunologists, procuring medicines and medical equipment.
This year, electronic cards should be introduced at specialized centers and their branch-offices, as well as medical facilities of Tashkent city.
In order to cardinally reform the system of healthcare funding, the laws on compulsory social insurance and all organizational measures for their implementation should be drafted and developed this year.
This system will be piloted this year in Syrdarya region.
Controlling the movement of medicines, suppressing the circulation of counterfeit products and creation of a system for online tracking of real prices of medicines is yet another urgent task.
Third, this year we will elevate the work on supporting women and youth to a new level.
Soft loans in the amount of 100 billion soums will be provided in 2020 for small business projects of 5,5 thousand women. Resources will be allocated to banks from state budget.
Besides, initial payment will be made from state budget so that 1 thousand 576 women could have their new homes.
Our women in need of social protection will undergo short-term training at Women’s entrepreneurship centers in the framework of five important initiatives.
Profound changes taking place in our country put further enhancement of the youth-related state policy on top of the agenda.
A single set of indices for assessing the efficiency of work with the youth need to be developed and a national indicator for assessing the youth policy needs to be introduced.
The Youth Union of Uzbekistan must develop a «Youth of Uzbekistan-2025» concept and define practical measures for upbringing morally and physically developed generation.
No one should remain aloof from ensuring peace and tranquility in society, the motto «Protect your child, your home, your Motherland as an apple of an eye!» should deeply penetrate and settle in the hearts of our people.
It is of paramount importance to continuously raise the moral and spiritual awareness of the population, especially the young people.
In this regard, it is an extremely noble duty to upbring the youth under the idea «From national renewal – to national progress», nurture love to Motherland in their hearts, encourage initiative and patriotism and form moral qualities in them.
Our new initiative with regard to the youth that started in the Republic of Karakalpakstan will be implemented across the country.
I urge the regional governors, and public on the ground to attach serious importance to this matter.
Fourth, healthy lifestyle should be actively and widely promoted among the population.
In this regard, new mass sports facilities should be constructed in the regions for the public, especially for our youth.
This year, projects amounting nearly 500 billion soums will be implemented to construct 269 football, volleyball, basketball and badminton fields, 178 boxing, wrestling, fitness and gymnastics rooms.
A four-layer system consisting of «organization-district (city)-region-country» stages is to be introduced to identify and select gifted sportspeople.
The Government and the National Olympic Committee shall create all the necessary conditions for our athletes to worthily participate at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games this year.
Fifth, we need to strengthen the attention to protecting the environment and improving ecological situation.
Primarily, we need to continue unprecedented work on mitigating the consequences of the Aral Sea tragedy and expand the forested areas on the dried seabed and create green belts around Nukus, Urgench and Khiva cities.
Enhancing environmental control over manufacturing process, revising ecological audit procedures and revival of private audit activities is another important task.
The Government shall develop and integrated plan of measures for the period 2025 to prevent environmental impact of industrial development.
In addition, the Government shall draft the Ecological Code until October 1, 2020 with involvement of high-profile international experts.
The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, governors of regions, district and city mayors shall develop and implement plans on improving the ecological situation of each area and environmental impact of each enterprise, as well as waste management.
Sixth, special attention should be paid to the institutions of culture and art, strengthening their material and technical infrastructure.
This year 22 theaters and institutions of culture will be constructed and reconstructed at the expense of budgetary funds.
In addition, 20 cultural centers and amusement parks will be commissioned on public-private partnership basis.
Artistically mature works need to be created in cinematography, development of modern movie-industry, particularly, construction of new movie theaters should be ensured.
The state funding of filmmaking will be enhanced this year.
In this regard, we need to develop the Concept of development of cinematography until 2030 and draft the Law «On cinematography».
Besides, this year we need to successfully hold the Second Maqom Music Festival in Shakhrisabz which is an important event in our cultural life.
In addition, 2020 is the year of the 145th anniversary of Makhmudkhuja Bekhbudiy, renowned scholar and writer who held the torch of enlightenment high in difficult periods of our nation’s history.
In fact, we need to carefully study the Jadid movement, the heritage left by our ancestors – the champions of enlightenment.
The more we study this moral treasure, the more answers we will find to the numerous questions that bother us these days.
The more actively we promote this invaluable richness, our people, especially our youth, will appreciate today’s tranquil and free life.
Creation of full-fledged and efficient system of management is the main condition of accomplishing enormous tasks that lay ahead.
At recent meetings we have thoroughly discussed all of the issues related to lawmaking and efficient organization of the parliamentary control mechanisms.
At the same time, I would like to draw your attention to the following urgent matters.
First, the role and responsibility of executive and representative bodies in public administration on the ground must be further increased.
A new system must be created to control the efficient use of broad powers granted to governors and mayors for over the last 3 years, as well as the efficiency of the activities of regional structures of ministries and agencies.
In this regard a well-grounded question arises: why the entire Government starting from the Prime Minister and regional governors must report to the parliament, but regional and district-level official should not report to the local councils?
Therefore, a system is to be put in place under which regional governors and district mayors will present their programs and provide status reports on their implementation to regional councils.
At the same time, governors and mayors will have to inform the mass media and public on implementation of indices and target parameters set forth in decrees, decisions, concepts and strategies across their regions.
In order to increase the work efficiency, I propose to introduce the institute of Council inquiry in the activity of local representative bodies.
Here is another important matter. The current legislation provides for some 300 tasks and functions of governors’ and mayors’ offices.
Of this number, 175, by definition, are not among core tasks of governors’ and mayors’ offices and duplicate the functions of other agencies.
Naturally, it has a negative impact on the work quality and performance discipline.
Therefore, the Senate of the Oliy Majlis is to engage the Ministry of Justice in the first half of this year and revise the powers of governors and mayors and develop proposals on ensuring transfer of extrinsic and duplicating functions to other relevant agencies.
Second, it would be advisable for NGOs and other civil society institutions to draw the attention of public authorities to the problems which cause concern among the population and today and provide their well-justified proposals and suggestions.
To this end, we need to establish a broad social partnership with NGOs at national and regional level and increase the number of grants and social contracts.
Ministries and agencies should not stand aloof as mere spectators and widen the scopes of such social partnership.
Therefore, the activity of the Social Fund for the Support of NGOs and other Civil Society Institutions under the Oliy Majlis needs to be improved.
The binding nature of public consultations and public hearings in adopting extremely important decisions, which draw the special interest in public and are related to the social and economic life of the country, needs to be clearly specified.
If public approves, it will be approved, if not, then it will be rejected.
In order to further strengthen public monitoring, establish a closer cooperation between the state and society, I propose to establish the Civic Chamber of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In order to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a practical cooperation of the Parliament, the Government and civil society institutions should be established and regular parliamentary and public hearings on this matter should be organized.
Distinguished deputies and senators!
The efficiency of our reforms largely depends on four important factors, such as ensuring the rule of law; steadfastly combatting corruption; institutional capacity building and building strong democratic institutions.
You are well aware that we have dwelled upon main tasks in the rule of law and judicial spheres at the solemn ceremony dedicated to the Constitution Day.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the following additional tasks.
First, ensuring full independence of courts must be one of our key tasks.
In addition to the view, which I expressed in my previous addresses, I would like to stress once again that violations during pre-trial investigation can be eliminated by ensuring the real independence of courts alone.
Legislative measures and activities put in place in this regard are giving their specific results.
These positive changes have been especially noted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Mr. Diego García-Sayan.
One thousand nine hundred and eighty nine persons were acquitted for over the last three years, while in 2019 alone this figure reached 859. In addition, 3 thousand 81 persons were released from the courtroom and indictments against 2 thousand 623 persons were amended by excluding unjustified criminal charges.
The fact that our judges are acquitting suspects in order to ensure justice and the rule of law is, undoubtedly, our biggest achievement in the judicial and legal sphere.
As President I will continue to fully support such courage and resolve of our judges.
Now, the time has come not to limit ourselves with merely acknowledging the fact that people’s rights have been restored by court, but to bluntly ask why the human rights and freedoms are violated at pre-trial investigation, bear liability for oppressions.
The practice of recalling and examining judicial decisions by prosecutor’s office, which is inherited from the old system and yet still continuing, should be limited.
From now on, a prosecutor will be able to examine a judicial decision only when a complaint is filed under the case only.
Powers of court chairpersons in terms of assessing judges’ performance and opening disciplinary cases against them need to be revised.
Public officials should clearly realize that the issues of ensuring independence of courts will remain under the strict personal control of President.
Any person setting foot in the court premises, should be fully confident that justice prevails in Uzbekistan.
Otherwise, as great German philosopher Immanuel Kant said «If justice perishes, then there doesn’t remain anything that can give a value to life».
We should never forget this truth. Judges in Uzbekistan must be the staunch defenders of laws and strong buttress of justice.
The Supreme Court, the Supreme Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice shall in three month’s time submit a draft law providing for the implementation of the foregoing proposals.
Second, the main laws and codes related to the judicial sphere were adopted almost 20-25 years ago and don’t meet the modern time requirements.
Therefore, it is expedient for the Parliament to adopt anew the Civil, Criminal, Criminal-Procedure and Administrative Liability codes in the forthcoming years.
In this regard, a special attention should be attached primarily to the introduction of advanced human rights standards to the investigative and judicial practices.
The purpose from renewing the legislation should not be the adoption of a law alone, on the contrary, one must think how the new laws will provide practical benefits to the people and how they will improve their lives.
Third, the reforms in the sphere of early prevention of offences must be elevated to a new level.
We are implementing bold reforms to enhance the activities of internal affairs bodies.
However, we should openly admit that so far this agency has not won people’s trust or became their real defender.
The system has not defined clear criteria related to maintaining public order, fighting crime and providing public services.
In this regard, I believe it is worth repeating once again that reforms must continue to turn the internal bodies into a structure which will be at people’s service.
This is a five-year task for the new Parliament, particularly for the Senate, and all organizational and legal framework should be created and practical measures be taken to this end.
A system of advanced training and targeted training of managerial staff of all levels of internal bodies should be created.
Fourth, unfortunately, the scourge of corruption in our society is impeding our progress with its various manifestations.
Unless we suppress and prevent this evil, it will be impossible to create a real climate of business and investments, no sphere of society will develop.
Both numerous appeals received by the President and stories carried in the media and social networks vividly demonstrate that entrepreneurs still face corruption in the spheres of land allocation, cadastre, construction, license, customs, banking and public procurement.
Unless all layers of the population are involved and best experts are not engaged in fighting corruption, all members of our society are not given an «integrity vaccine», if you will, we will never achieve the great goals we have set.
We should move to early prevention of corruption rather than fighting its consequences.
In order to systemically implement these tasks, I want to propose to establish a separate agency which will be responsible for fighting corruption and report to the President and the Parliament. What do you think about this?
In three month’s time, the Administration of the President jointly with the relevant committees of the chambers of the Oliy Majlis shall draft the relevant Decree.
Fifth, yet another important step is required by life itself in terms of ensuring human rights by enhancing the legislation in the field of citizenship.
In particular, I believe it is a high time to take the organizational and legal measures to lawfully resolve the problem of thousands of our compatriots who have been residing in our country for a long time but do not have a legal status of a citizen of Uzbekistan.
Specifically, the persons who came to Uzbekistan before 1995 and have been residing here since then must be granted citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan automatically.
Thereby, almost 50 thousand of our compatriots will be able to resolve their long-standing unaddressed problem of citizenship.
The Cabinet of Ministers shall consider this matter jointly with the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis and submit the relevant draft laws until May 1 this year.
Distinguished participants of the session!
We will consistently continue the work on strengthening the inter-ethnic peace and the climate of religious tolerance.
In this regard, I propose to hold for the first time in our country «The Friendship Week» and «Friendship» International Forum-Festival on the occasion of July 30 – the International Friendship Day.
Promoting the humanistic essence of Islam and its service to such noble goals as peace and friendship under the noble idea of «confronting ignorance with enlightenment» will remain among constant items of our agenda.
This year the international scientific and practical conferences and other events will be organized in our country dedicated to the life and scientific heritage of Imam Bukhari – the master of the science of hadith, Abu Mansur Moturidiy – the founder of the science of kalam and his successor Abu Muin Nasafiy.
We shall also start reconstruction of the memorial complex of Imam Bukhari in Samarkand based on a completely new design so that it matches the enormous prestige of this holy person in the Muslim world.
In addition, we should celebrate at a high level the 700th anniversary of great scholar Bakhouddin Naqshband.
You are well aware that thanks to humanistic policy pursued in our country in recent years an important work is underway to bring to a healthy life those of our citizen who went astray and innocently made mistakes.
This year we will continue the work in terms of identifying and addressing social and household problems of persons who sincerely repented of entering the path of religious extremism and their social adaptation.
Rapidly changing, unstable and complex situation in the world, as well as various conflicts require from us to ensure security of our beloved Motherland and tranquil life of our people and always be ready to stand up against any existing threats and dangers.
At a recent meeting of the Security Council under the President we have identified the priority tasks and practical measures in this regard. I am confident that our Armed Forces will be able to effectively execute these tasks.
We will continue the wide-ranging work in terms of stepping up the foreign policy of Uzbekistan, the foreign policy course which meets our national interests, which is open, pragmatic and well thought-out.
We will further strengthen the ties of cooperation, as well as long-term and multifaceted partnerships with all near and far countries.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the following priority aspects.
First, we need to take relations with the countries of the Central Asian region to a qualitatively new level in the spirit of friendship, good neighborliness and strategic partnership in all areas.
Second, special significance will be attached to further development of political, trade, economic, investment, transport, communications, cultural and humanitarian ties with the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union and Asian countries.
Third, we need to continue strengthening multilateral cooperation within the framework of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Turkic Council and other international organizations.
With a view of enhancing international cooperation in addressing the Aral Sea problem, we have great confidence in the Multilateral Trust Fund for Human Security in the Aral Sea region established under the auspices of the United Nations.
We intend to consistently promote Uzbekistan’s accession to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2021-2023.
At the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly we proposed to develop an international Convention on the Rights of the Youth.
I propose to dedicate this year’s Samarkand Forum on Human Rights to the rights of the youth and discuss the draft Convention during the forum.
We should also accelerate the adoption of the national human rights strategy.
Fourth, we need to further enhance the effectiveness of our activities in the framework of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Uzbekistan's presidency at the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2020 has a historical importance for us.
We will mobilize our entire capacity and capabilities to expand the trade-economic and transport-transit cooperation within the Commonwealth, enhance the practical efficiency of the decisions made by the Organization and further strengthen humanitarian ties among member-states.
Development of relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will remain as an important direction of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy.
In addition, the top level bilateral and multilateral events are expected to be held this year with the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, Central Asia, the European Union and Asia.
Promising projects and programs that serve the interests of our country are to be adopted during the visits.
Taking this opportunity, I want to express my deep gratitude to the representatives of foreign diplomatic corps and international organizations in our country who are making a worthy contribution to strengthening of cooperation with the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The 75th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II is to be widely celebrated internationally in 2020.
We are all rightfully proud that our brave, invincible and noble people have immensely contributed to the great Victory.
Our nation will never forget that over 1,5 million soldiers from Uzbekistan bravely fought for peace and freedom in this bloody war, one in three never returned to their loved ones, as well as the courage displayed by our nation on the home front.
We must respect and honor veterans of the war and the home front not only on holidays, but always, and care about their health every day and hour.
This year a comprehensive attention to them will be further strengthened.
In particular, we will create favorable conditions for them to recover their health in the best health resorts of the country.
Significant work is underway to demonstrate the true courage and bravery of our nation during the war years through cinema and theater, artistic and publicist works and scientific research and thus communicate these values to our population, especially the youth in an impressive way.
In particular, a sublime «Victory Park» is under construction at Almazar district of Tashkent.
We need to carefully organize preparations to celebrate the Remembrance and Honors Day and the 75th Anniversary of Victory commendably and at a high level.
Three years ago we started enormous works in order to take the progress of our country to a new level.
Based on the intellect, strength and potential of our people, we are achieving initial, yet very important and significant results.
We must now solidify these achievements and take even more courageous and bigger steps.
Since process of reforms and transformations in our country is entering an irreversible and crucial milestone. Efficiency is becoming a key requirement for all of us. In this regard, 2020 will be a year of special hardships and responsibility for all of us.
We shall not be satisfied with yesterday’s achievements and accomplishments anymore. After all, today’s Uzbekistan is not the Uzbekistan of yesterday. Our people today are not the same as yesterday.
Reforms supported by practical results and bearing fruits quickly penetrate into people’s hearts and souls. And no one, no force can stop such reforms, such an intense process.
Most importantly, each and every one, living in our country, and every family should feel the effect of our reforms today.
To this end, the heads at all levels must work for each and every citizen, ensure their basic interests, and not chase percent, numbers, or paper.
Only then our noble elderly, our distinguished fathers and mothers, our dear women, our dear children, our little grandchildren, and our entire multinational people will be pleased with us.
It would be correct in every respect to approach every goal and objective set forth in today's Address, as well as their implementation from this very point.
The Cabinet of Ministers, together with the heads of the regions, must ensure that all the tasks specified in the Address are performed unconditionally, and report to the Oliy Majlis on a quarterly basis.
The Administration of the President and the Government, together with the chambers of the Oliy Majlis, shall develop and submit a draft State Program for 2020 within 20 days.
In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to yet another very important issue.
For over the last three years, the legal framework and broad opportunities were created to ensure freedom of speech, comprehensive development of media, free activity and creative work of journalists and bloggers in Uzbekistan.
We will continue to create all the conditions for the free and impartial work of the representatives of the «fourth power» and open coverage of the ongoing reforms in the country for our people and the international community.
I am always ready to support professional journalists in their honest and accurate reporting of problems and shortcomings on the ground.
The sacred hadith cited by our great ancestor Imam Bukhari in his books reads as follows: «All actions are according to intention».
Indeed, good works that begin with pure motives will surely be rewarded. Today, together with our proud, patient and hard-working people we set high goals and aspirations.
Enormous tasks and immense opportunities are ahead of us.
Let us never forget the following truth: we are a nation, who created great history, great state and great culture. We are the great nation, who never escapes from labor, never fears hardships, values justice – with great determination and perseverance.
If we all act hand-in-hand, stand united and rock-solid, work honestly and with good intentions, we will achieve any goals, in other words, we are capable to create a new page in history. We are ready to overcome any hardships and difficulties along this path.
In your person, in the person of our entire nation and in the person of blossoming youth, I see the sincere people who are close to my heart, who are diligently and selflessly working towards enormous goals that we have set before us.
In implementing the priority tasks and goals set forth in this Address, I trust and rely on our hardworking and generous people in the first place, as well as you as their representatives.
Once again, I wish all of you a sound health, endless strength and energy, successes and accomplishments, family happiness and prosperity.
Thank you for your attention!