Uzbek economy grows by 8% in 2015, president claims

By bne IntelliNews January 4, 2016

Uzbekistan’s economic growth exceeded 8% in 2015 (a pace the Uzbek government has reported for the past decade), President Islam Karimov said in his New Year’s message read out by an announcer on state-owned television.

According to the president’s message, real incomes grew by 9.6%, while wages, pensions, student grants and social benefits by 21.9%. The Uzbek government doesn’t publish absolute figures so it is nearly impossible to verify government figures.

“This is, above all, proof of the correctness of a development path chosen by us which has claimed recognition in the world as an ‘Uzbek model’ and which is based on radical reforms and democratisation of our society,” the message read out.

The president’s message noted that farmers harvested over 7.5mn tonnes of grain, 3.35mn tonnes of cotton, 14.5mn tonnes of vegetables and 4.3mn tonnes of fruit.

The president expects real economic growth to stand at 7.8% in 2016, while real income will grow by 9.5% and wages, pensions, student grants and social benefits by 15%.

A total of $17.31bn is expected to be invested in the Uzbek economy in 2016, of which 23.5% will be foreign investment, according to the presidential congratulatory message. “The construction of 164 major production facilities worth $5.5bn will be completed in 2016,” the message stressed.

Unlike leaders of other former Soviet countries, President Karimov doesn’t deliver his New Year’s message in a television broadcast, but his message is read out by veteran announcers. One such announcer – Abdumumin Utbosarov – who read out the message for a video recording two days before the broadcast, is reported to have died by the time the presidential message was broadcast minutes before the New Year. Uzmetronom.com, a website believed to be linked to Uzbek security services, reports that the announcer died of a heart attack on December 31 when he was called to the television station for re-recording of the message in case of corrections in the text.

The TV channel is also believed to have recorded the message with another announcer – Alisher Badalov, but Uzmetronom.com suggests that it didn’t dare to replace the original recording with the substitute as it “didn’t risk to report the untimely death [of the announcer] to Islam Karimov, bearing in mind what fate awaits the messenger in East, especially a few hours before the holiday”.

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