Uzbekistan has come a long way in a historically short period of time

Interview with Tanzila Narbaeva, Chairperson of the Senate of Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Uzbekistan

On September 1, Uzbekistan celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Independence. This period has become years of progress for the country. Historical achievements have been made on the way to building a new state. Thanks to the potential of the people, high boundaries have been conquered. All of this was analyzed in the interview of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev published in the national and foreign media. New Uzbekistan is a country of democratic transformations, great opportunities and practical deeds.

During the years of independence, a huge path was overcome by the parliament.

A conversation with the Chairperson of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan Tanzila Narbayeva, about the efforts made that have allowed an independent state to be formed over the past period and take a worthy place in the world community.

– First, I would like to focus on the interview of the head of state. As it says, the Basic Law was adopted in our independent state and the foundation of the constitutional system was laid. Thus, three branches of government were established – legislative, executive and judicial. The own army of Uzbekistan has been created, capable of reliably protecting state sovereignty, inviolability of borders, peaceful life of the people and national interests. The national currency, the sum, has been put into circulation, and gold and foreign exchange reserves have been formed. Along with this, we have revived a rich history and cultural heritage, national and religious values and self-awareness.

The President, deeply analyzing each sphere, did not limit himself to positive examples, but also clearly outlined the upcoming tasks. All this created the basis for the interview to become not just a conversation, but a program of historical significance. In this sense, it needs to be re-read and comprehended, adopted as an action plan.

– The interview says: “The construction of a new Uzbekistan is not a subjective desire, but an objective necessity.” What, in your opinion, were the most important events over the past five years?

– The last five years have been rich in events that are important not only for the people and the Motherland, but also for other states and regions.

First of all, good-neighborly relations have been established in Central Asia on the initiative and under the leadership of the President. The opening of borders was the dream of not only the people of Uzbekistan, but also the peoples of fraternal neighboring countries. The situation is not normal when a person could not get permission for months to visit a close relative living in a neighboring state. People who wanted to come to Uzbekistan faced the same difficulties. By showing political will, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev broke down these barriers. This task of the leader of Uzbekistan alone-encouraging Central Asia to unite and using all the opportunities for rapprochement – will remain in history as an event that began a new period in the processes of regional integration. As a result of good efforts, the fraternal peoples of Central Asia were united, there were no closed borders and roads between them.

One of the important events of the past five years can be called the adoption, on the initiative of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, of a special resolution on declaring the Aral Sea region a zone of environmental innovations and technologies, announced at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly. A lot of work is being done in the region on the basis of this document. This event did not happen at one moment, behind it lies the principled nature of the head of Uzbekistan.

For the first time, this proposal was put forward at the meeting of the heads of the founding states of the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, held in August 2018 in the city of Turkmenbashi. Later, the President from the rostrum of the UN called on the member states of this authoritative international organization to develop and adopt a fundamental document. The speech fully revealed the essence and significance of the future resolution, which should cover measures to address such pressing issues as creating conditions for the development of high – tech innovations, environmentally friendly energy and water-saving technologies, attracting investment and their implementation, consistent application of the principles of the green economy, preventing soil degradation, desertification and environmental migration, as well as the development of ecotourism.

In order to implement this idea, a lot of work has been done in Uzbekistan, including by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, embassies in foreign countries and the permanent mission to the UN. The draft of this resolution was presented for the first time at the international conference Aral Sea Region – zone of environmental innovations and Technologies held on October 25, 2019 in Nukus.

It was highly appreciated by the delegations of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Africa, Latin and North America. More than 60 states have become its co-authors. This fact shows that the President of Uzbekistan has put forward an initiative that is relevant not only for Central Asia, but also for the whole world.

Thus, the document was unanimously adopted at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. This is such an important event that does honor to any nation.

At the 75th session, the President put forward another initiative – the adoption of a special resolution of the UN General Assembly on increasing the role of parliaments in achieving the Goals of sustainable development and ensuring human rights. On June 23-24 of this year, an international forum dedicated to inter-parliamentary global cooperation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was held in Bukhara within the framework of this initiative. During the event, along with the analysis of the results for achieving the SDGs, the following urgent tasks were also identified.

The issues covered in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, which are being implemented at the initiative of the United Nations, are of crucial importance for all mankind. In 2015, the Government of Uzbekistan committed itself to implementing the Global Agenda for the period up to 2030. Based on this, 16 National Sustainable Development Goals and 125 relevant targets were adopted in 2018. Since then, significant work has been implemented in this direction.

The work carried out in the country on the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of the national parliament in this area and the results of international cooperation in this direction were comprehensively considered at the above-mentioned Bukhara Forum. This event became a dialogue platform for the exchange of experience. It discussed in detail issues that are important not only for us, but also for all states. The next tasks were also identified. The Bukhara Declaration on Global Inter-Parliamentary Partnership in Achieving the SDGs was adopted, which will give impetus to further activities.

In general, the Bukhara Forum provided its participants with an opportunity to exchange experience in planning ways to achieve the SDGs, determining decisions related to the development, approval, implementation and monitoring of budget execution. Most importantly, the forum discussed a draft special resolution of the UN General Assembly on increasing the role of parliaments in achieving the Goals of sustainable development and ensuring human rights. The proposal to adopt this resolution was supported by members of the parliaments of foreign countries.

Another event of historical significance was the third Consultative Meeting of the heads of Central Asian states, which was held on August 5-6 in Turkmenistan. It is known that the proposal to hold regular consultative meetings of the heads of Central Asian states was put forward by the President of Uzbekistan at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2017. At the international conference Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, cooperation for sustainable development and mutual Prosperityheld under the auspices of the United Nations on November 10-11, 2017 in Samarkand, special emphasis was placed on this issue. Since that time, consultative meetings have been established,they play an important role in raising the cooperation of the countries of the region to a new level in all spheres. This is evident from the issues discussed and the agreements reached.

At the meeting in Turkmenistan, the results of the implementation of the agreements over the past four years were discussed. The focus was on such topical issues as ensuring sustainable and progressive progress for the states of the region, developing trade, expanding cooperation in the energy and transport and communication sectors.

At the meeting, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev put forward a number of new initiatives aimed at strengthening friendship and good-neighborliness. Each is important and crucial for all the States of the region. In this sense, the effect of the decisions at the third Consultative Meeting of the Heads of Central Asian States will soon be felt by the population of all neighboring countries.

It should be particularly noted that within the framework of the Consultative Meeting, a forum of Dialogue of women leaders of Central Asian countries was held. At it, we comprehensively highlighted the priority aspects of the consistent policy in the field of gender strategy implemented in Uzbekistan. At the forum, we agreed with the parliaments of neighboring states to raise cooperation in this direction to the level of modern requirements.

In the world media, Uzbekistan is represented as a state where the policy of openness is actively implemented, which is adhered to by the parliament, in particular, the Senate of the Oliy Majlis. What effect does it have in practice?

– The main task of the parliament is to unite the interests in society on the path of the country’s development. We are entrusted with the mission of an important means of communication to establish a system of relations between the state and other institutions of society. The Parliament is a kind of bridge between the state and the people. In the world, he is given the function of developing democracy, defending the rights and freedoms of citizens. The level of development of society largely depends on the development of parliamentarism.

In recent years, the activities of the national parliament, in particular, the Senate of the OliyMajlis, have completely changed and been updated. In accordance with the strategy of building a new Uzbekistan, measures have been implemented aimed at improving the legislative activity of the upper chamber, strengthening parliamentary control, expanding international inter-parliamentary ties, promoting the activities of local Kengashes, achieving effective dialogue with the people.

To get a clearer idea, let’s compare the legislative activity of the Senate. In 2015, four plenary sessions were held, at which 73 resolutions were adopted and 20 laws were approved. And in 2020, 10 plenary sessions were held. They considered more than 170 issues, including 71 laws (31 new, 40 laws on amendments and additions to the current legislation). 65 laws were approved, six were rejected.

These figures show that the legislative activity of the Senate has acquired an accelerated pace. We are not talking about quantitative changes, but about a qualitative update. Any law is subjected to a deep analysis: whether it will serve the interests of the people and the progress of the Motherland.

As a result of the measures taken to activate the work of the groups and commissions of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan on cooperation with the parliaments of foreign countries, the activities of inter-parliamentary cooperation groups have revived. In the context of increasing the role of parliamentary diplomacy in modern international relations, an important step in 2020 was the adoption of the Concept of Parliamentary Diplomacy. This document contributes to the increase of the authority of the national parliament on an international scale, the further development of inter-parliamentary relations. It can be seen that parliamentary diplomacy is being activated in several directions.

In addition, multilateral cooperation within the framework of the United Nations and other international structures is also being intensified, and the practice of mutual support within international organizations is being strengthened. In particular, the Oliy Majlis takes an effective part in the activities of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic-speaking Countries.

Currently, within the framework of expanding the scope of cooperation between Uzbekistan and the Turkic-speaking states, the question of the participation of the Oliy Majlis in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Turkic-speaking Countries as a full-fledged member is being studied. Specific long-term work plans have been formed aimed at mutual cooperation with these inter-parliamentary organizations.

Work is underway to organize the events of inter-parliamentary organizations in Uzbekistan. For example, in 2022, it is planned to hold a Global summit of Women Speakers of Parliaments in Uzbekistan together with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and also an autumn meeting of the assembly together with the CIS Inter – Parliamentary Assembly.

The inter-parliamentary cooperation groups serve as a permanent platform for the development of relations with the legislative bodies of foreign countries and for the expansion of parliamentary dialogue. This approach is a powerful tool for conducting an open and constructive dialogue with foreign partners.

If in 2015-2019 there were 25 inter-parliamentary groups and two commissions in the Senate, at present their number has reached 50 (47 groups and three commissions). An event that deserves special attention is the creation of the Caucus – a friendship group in the United States Congress.

The Parliament is actively involved in the process of strengthening the rule of law, ensuring the welfare of the people, protecting human rights and freedoms, and strengthening international relations.

As part of the Strategy of Actions, the activities of the Senate have been reformed since 2017. The National Parliament has become closer to the people: senators, not only considering laws, meet with the population on the ground, participate in solving problems of concern to people. As a result, the people trust us, delve into the essence of the ongoing reforms, tryto make their contribution.

Cooperation between the Parliament and the executive branch has also been strengthened. At the meetings of the Senate, information is regularly heard from the heads of state and economic management bodies, local khokimiyats.

The cooperation of the Senate with the local Kengashes of People’s Deputies has risen to a new level. The amendments and additions to 13 laws have expanded the powers of local Kengashes. They have established separate secretariats. In order to ensure the effectiveness of work in this direction, close cooperation has been established between the Senate committees and local Kengashes.

In recent years, the role of the supreme legislative body of the state has increased. The annual Message of the President to the Oliy Majlisis of great importance in this regard. The implementation of state programs adopted on the basis of a program document for the country is taken over by the Parliament for control. The tasks set out in it are solved with the assistance of the relevant departments.

Within the framework of the nationwide movement Kindness and Support, which was widely spread during the quarantine period, senators and deputies of local Kengashes actively joined the process of providing assistance to low-income and needy segments of the population.

In recent years, Uzbekistan has entered a phase of grandiose reforms, construction and landscaping work is underway at an accelerated pace in the country. The same rhythm is inherent in the parliament, which has fully gained independence as a legislative power, expanded its powers, and has all the conditions for fulfilling its tasks.

The discussion of draft laws in local Kengashes allows them to fully reflect the interests of the regions. The practice of listening to the heads of state bodies and local khokimiyatson the implementation of Presidential decrees and resolutions, government resolutions and Road mapshas been introduced.

The control functions of the Parliament have an effective impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Parliamentary control allows an objective assessment of the work in this direction, which is coordinated by the established Parliamentary Commission for Monitoring the implementation of National Goals and objectives in the field of sustainable development of the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030.

This commission, along with monitoring the implementation of the tasks assigned to the coordinating council, also assists it. It hears reports in each quarter. Proposals are being prepared for the development of laws and other regulatory legal acts. The implementation of laws and other regulatory documents is monitored, the achievements of the departments responsible for the implementation of national goals are critically analyzed, and advanced foreign experience is implemented. The important tasks of this structure are to consider the sufficiency of the annual budget parameters provided by the government, their compliance with the plan for the implementation of the National Sustainable Development Goals, to prepare proposals for amendments to the State Budget and laws on the State Budget for the year, to strengthen public relations in informing about the results in achieving the SDGs.

On the basis of these tasks, the parliamentary commission is doing a lot of work. Thus, last year, the state of implementation of such sections of the National Sustainable Development Goals as poverty reduction, ensuring food security, protecting mothers and children, ensuring gender equality, protecting the rights and interests of women was studied. 37 national tasks were considered, taking into account more than 50 indicators. The reports were submitted by 19 heads of state bodies. On certain issues, 388 senatorial requests were sent to state authorities and management bodies, 13 parliamentary requests were sent to members of the government.

The potential of local Kengashes of people’s Deputies is effectively used in achieving the SDGs. On the ground, under the leadership of senators, the implementation of adopted documents on National Goals is being studied,measures are being taken to solve the problems that have arisen. If an issue cannot be resolved at the local or regional level, it is submitted to the Senate.

Parliamentary and public hearings are also considered important areas of activity of the Parliament. On this basis, targeted measures are being developed to fulfill each of the National Tasks, to solve the existing problems in this area. The Senate, by its resolution, sets a task for the government. As a result, the problems that have accumulated over the years are being solved on the ground, shortcomings are being eliminated.

The activity of the structures and institutions established under the national Parliament has noticeably increased. One of them is the National Commission for Combating Human Trafficking and Forced Labor. Thanks to the cooperation it has established with the International LabourOrganization and other international organizations, child and forced labor have been eradicated in Uzbekistan.

Of course, the strong political will of the President has become an important factor in the results achieved in the fight against human trafficking and forced labor. Five years ago, the world community sharply criticized that cotton is harvested by manual labor in Uzbekistan, that child labor is used. Indeed, the cotton harvest was not complete without students, college students, employees of enterprises, organizations and institutions. This situation had a negative impact on the image of Uzbekistan on the world stage, in a certain sense, it affected the inflow of foreign investment. In order to eliminate the existing distortions, over the past three years, more than 30 regulatory documents have been adopted, seven conventions and protocols of the International Labour Organization and the International Organization for Migration have been ratified.

Speaking about the fight against forced labor, it should be noted that during last year’s cotton picking season, the parliament organized strict public control, campaigning was carried out. At the initiative of the senators, working groups were created, consisting of deputies of local Kengashesand representatives of the media. During the harvesting season, raids were carried out in clusters, farms, mahallas, enterprises and organizations. Interviews were conducted with more than 96 thousand collectors and employees. The cases of non-compliance with the requirements of labor legislation were analyzed. The working groups revealed that in 803 cases the norms of labor legislation were violated. Measures of responsibility were applied against 170 officials, including five district khokims.

As a result of the implemented measures, Uzbekistan improved its position in the international rankings. Thus, in the report on human trafficking in the world, which is compiled annually by the US State Department, Uzbekistan was included in the II category this year, that is, in the category of countries carrying out large-scale work to fully comply with international standards. This is the recognition and evaluation of what has been done by the road with its objectivity.

– In the new Uzbekistan, special attention is paid to the fight against corruption, a vice that corrodes the foundations of society. In fact, this is one of the main problems of today. What is the place of the upper house of parliament in countering this evil and what is the impact of the policy of openness and parliamentary control in its eradication?

– The construction of a new Uzbekistan began with an irreconcilable fight against corruption. The first document signed by the head of state since he took office as President was the Law On Combating Corruption. Over the past five years, the organizational and legal framework aimed at preventing corruption has been created. More than 70 regulatory documents have been adopted to reduce corruption-causing factors in all areas related to state and public construction, as well asRoad maps” and programs. In particular, the practice of adopting state programs designed for two years and serving to solve problems on a systematic basis has been established. The activities of the Republican Interdepartmental Commission on Combating Corruption, formed in accordance with the Presidential decree of February 2, 2017, have been radically revised. In order to improve the quality of its work and strengthen parliamentary control, the interdepartmental commission has been transformed into the National Council for Combating Corruption.

Special anti-corruption committees have been established in both houses of Parliament, which have strengthened the institution of parliamentary control. As a working body of the National Council, the Anti-Corruption Agency was established – the only body that ensures the implementation of state policy in this area.

The President of the country told the world community about the irreconcilable struggle of society against this disease from the high rostrum of the United Nations in his speech at the 75th session of the General Assembly, thereby confirming his commitment to the principles of democracy.

Consistent measures are being taken to remove bureaucratic barriers, ensure openness and transparency in all spheres of state and public life, and reduce the shadow economy. The project Sphere without Corruptionis being implemented in such areas as construction, higher education, healthcare and public procurement. Compliance control is being established in all ministries and departments.

Speaking about the Sphere without Corruption project, it should be noted that over 40 regulatory documents have been adopted in the construction industry alone over the past three years. In order to radically improve the quality of construction and installation works and improve the construction control system, the Transparent Construction system is being gradually introduced.

More than ten regulatory legal acts in the field of public procurement have been developed, the Law On Public Procurement has been adopted in a new version. An electronic software platform has been developed. It provides an opportunity for students and undergraduates to report on the facts of corruption in the higher education system in an anonymous form.

Despite the measures taken, corruption cases are recorded in such areas as budget spending, public procurement, capital construction, allocation of bank loans, as well as when hiring.

According to the Presidential DecreeOn measures to create an environment of intolerant attitude to corruption, radically reduce corruption factors in state and public administration, as well as broad public involvement in this process of July 6, an open electronic register of persons found guilty of corruption-related crimes is being created. The persons listed in it are deprived of the right to enter the civil service, to be awarded state awards, to be nominated for elected or appointed positions.

At the same time, a number of important documents are being developed that provide for responsibility for allowing a conflict of interests that provoke corruption-related situations in the areas of public procurement, the provision of tax benefits, the allocation of land, and the privatization of state assets.

The adoption of these norms will put an end to any manifestations of corruption, will increase the effectiveness of the fight against it.

– What decisions and measures have made it possible to achieve tangible results in the field of gender equality?

– In recent years, a significant way has been passed in the direction of ensuring gender equality. The protection of women’s rights and interests has become a priority in State policy.

The Committee of the Senate of the OliyMajlis on Women and Gender Equality, the Commission on Ensuring Gender Equality, the Republican Public Women’s Council were formed. The laws On guarantees of equal rights and opportunities for women and men, On the protection of women from harassment and violence, the Strategy for Achieving Gender Equality in the Republic of Uzbekistan until 2030 have been adopted.

Last year, the Commission on Gender Equality carried out consistent work to ensure the protection of women’s rights and interests. In particular, according to the two above-mentioned laws, the activities of the Advisory Council on Gender Equality have been established in most ministries and departments. The procedure for conducting a gender-legal examination of the draft of each normative legal document before its adoption has been introduced. The regulation on granting a protective order to women who have suffered from violence and harassment, ensuring its execution and monitoring has been approved.

On the initiative of the commission, in order to streamline the activities of women engaged in temporary work, to ensure their right to work, day labor centers have been organized. In 2020, 30 bureaus for temporary provision of daily work were opened in the republic. A personnel reserve of more than six thousand women has been formed. 16-have taken senior positions in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, one woman has been appointed ambassador. In general, about 1,500 women are active in leadership positions at various levels.

The Republican Public Council of Women, created on the initiative of the head of state, raisesto a new level the work on the active involvement of compatriots in all spheres of life of the country, ensuring their employment, supporting business initiatives, promoting education and developing professional skills.

A system of payment of the initial payment of the cost of housing for women with disabilities, as well as those who have fallen into difficult social conditions, including the low-income, raising children in single-parent families, who need to improve housing conditions, has been introduced. For this purpose, the State Trust Fund for Women’s Support has been established, to which 300 billion soums are allocated annually from the State budget.

Over the past period of this year, in order to support the business initiatives of women from among the needy, 68,281 representatives of the weaker sex were provided with preferential loans in the amount of 837 billion 931 million soums, which ensured their employment.

As part of measures to improve women’s health, form a healthy family and promote a healthy lifestyle, a medical examination of 6.2 million compatriots of reproductive age was conducted. At the same time, 44 percent of the examined patients were cured on an outpatient and inpatient basis. Mobile medical teams with visits to remote and hard-to-reach areas examined 623 550 women of fertile age. An in-depth examination improved 142,071 of them with signs of the initial stage of cancer.

Parliamentary and public control has been established over the formation of lists of vulnerable categories of the population on the ground, the study and solution of their problems. In 72 cities and districts of eight regions (the Republic of Karakalpakstan, Andijan, Bukhara, Namagan, Ferghana, Syrdarya, Tashkent regions and Tashkent), the state of affairs with ensuring women’s rights and freedoms was studied. Reports of the heads of local executive authorities were heard, Road maps were approved to eliminate the identified shortcomings.

The analysis of problematic issues related to divorce, early marriage and childbirth, crime, harassment, violence, suicide and attempt on life, migration and human trafficking is conducted on an ongoing basis. Based on its results, specific tasks are set for the competent authorities.

The country pays constant attention to the comprehensive support of women, in particular, their employment, infusion into entrepreneurship. Relevant state programs are being adopted. Women are attracted to the business sphere, which is a considerable merit of the centers of women’s entrepreneurship. With their assistance, many unemployed women started a business.

To further increase the activity of women, the Senate organized a contest Gender Equality Activist. Its holding will attract attention in each team to the issues of achieving gender equality, as well as ensuring equal rights of women and men.

As a result of consistent measures, women are increasingly making decisions of national importance. Their election as deputies, senators, appointment to responsible positions of the minister, khokim and ambassador are becoming common phenomena. This fact was also taken into account when compiling the rating Women in Politics, which is conducted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In it, Uzbekistan rose from the 130th place among the parliaments of the world in 2019 to the 45th place in 2021, entering the top 50.

– The Senate heads a number of commissions and councils. A new direction is working with international ratings and indices. How important is this direction for Uzbekistan?

– First of all, let’s figure out what the rating is needed for. There are many types of rating: business, investment attractiveness, priority of the law, gender equality, and others. High places in them mean recognition at the international level of openness, transparency and the economic potential of the country. They reflect the degree of development, commitment to democratic transformations. International rating organizations regularly and objectively evaluate such important issues as improving the quality of government, improving the welfare of the population, ensuring human rights and freedoms, creating a favorable business environment for entrepreneurs and foreign investors, achieving stable economic growth. These aspects are also reflected in the essence of the reforms carried out in the country.

According to the relevant presidential decree, the Republican Council for Working with International Ratings and Indices was established, headed by the chambers of Parliament. The Council is called upon to establish parliamentary, and therefore popular, control over the progress of reforms in industries and areas evaluated by international ratings.

The decree defines 24 international ratings as priorities for our republic. Over the past period, Uzbekistans positions have improved in 16 of them. For the first time, the republic was recognized for three more – the Global Innovation Index, the Industrial Competitiveness Index, and the Index of Regular Restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment.

The Republican Council conducts a systematic analysis of the degree of socio-economic and political-legal development of the country, takes measures to solve the identified problems.

Only in 2020, thanks to this, 12 draft laws, three codes, 14 presidential decrees and resolutions, and 15 government resolutions were developed. Three laws, seven decrees and resolutions of the head of state and four government resolutions have already been adopted. This year, it is planned to develop drafts of seven strategies, 21 laws, two concepts, 35 regulatory legal acts.

The republic’s indicators in international ratings are significantly improving. In particular, in the World Bank’s Statistical Potential Index, Uzbekistan has risen by 16 positions, taking 61st place among 146 countries. In the Index of doing business last year, Uzbekistan became the 69th among 190 countries, having improved the indicators by 18 positions in four years. According to such criteria of the index as registration of enterprises, contract enforcement and connection to the electric grid, Uzbekistan took the 8th, 22nd and 36th places, respectively, thus entering the top twenty reformer countries.

Uzbekistan has not participated in the Global Initiative Index since 2015. Thanks to the implemented measures, the country has improved its performance by 29 positions, placing on the 93rd line among 131 countries. This is the fourth place on the scale of Central and South Asia.

In the Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation this year, we have risen by six positions – to the 108th mark among 178 states. This is the 21st position among forty countries of Asia and the Pacific region. Over the past four years, Uzbekistan has risen by 44 positions on this index.

The coronavirus pandemic forced us to raise funds for external debt. This led to a decrease in the sovereign credit rating of Uzbekistan and the assessment of the domestic credit rating as negative by the international rating agency S&P Global Ratings.

This year, the country’s rating forecast has been upgraded from negative to stable, which is explained by a number of factors.

First, in 2020, Uzbekistan was among the few countries that achieved economic growth (1.6 percent).

Secondly, the growth rate of external debt has been reduced, as well as short-term fiscal and external risks have been reduced.

The agency positively assessed the strict restriction by law of the annual limit of external debt (five billion dollars) and the highest permissible amount of public debt (60 percent of gross domestic product). In general, the fiscal position of Uzbekistan has improved over the past two years.

Speaking about the assessment of the results of the efforts presented to Uzbekistan, the President stressed: …we are carrying out democratic transformations not in order to please someone, not for the sake of praise or getting into different ratings, but because we need democratic processes like air, we are carrying them out for the benefit of our people, first of all taking care of the present and tomorrow of the younger generation.

Indeed, we should not forget that ratings are just a measure of measurement. The real indicator of success is to achieve economic progress, attract foreign investment, create jobs and increase the income of the population.