Uzbekistan state agencies splash out 6.6bn som on smartphones in 2023 despite budget deficit

Uzbekistan state agencies splash out 6.6bn som on smartphones in 2023 despite budget deficit
iPhones come with a handy calculator. / Ka Kit Pang, cc-by-sa 4.0
By bne IntelliNews June 6, 2024

State agencies in Uzbekistan last year reportedly spent over Uzbekistani som (UZS) 6.6bn ($521,000) on acquiring more than 3,400 smartphones, including latest iPhone 15 Pro Max models.

The figure was first reported by, with reference to an analytical report compiled by the treasury service committee under the economy and finance ministry. 

The spending spree occurred at a time when the state budget deficit was widening, with the shortfall primarily covered by external debts, which have been soaring.

The spending on smartphones contravened a January 5, 2023 directive from the prime minister. It mandated the temporary suspension of main asset purchases by ministries and agencies until the approval of an organisational structure subject to limits.

The treasury service committee’s findings set out how in 2023, state organisations averaged 12 smartphones per transaction. Specific expenditures included:

  • In the Republic of Karakalpakstan, UZS1.5bn ($118,670) spent on 796 mobile devices across 62 orders.
  • In Jizzakh region, UZS 948.9mn ($75,071) expended on 658 mobile devices across 27 orders.
  • In Fergana region, UZS 581.9mn ($46,036) expended on 519 mobile devices across 30 orders.

"For example, the administration of the Sarasiyo district in Surkhandarya region concluded a contract for UZS72mn ($5,696) from the reserve fund with the private enterprise 'Bahrulloi Rustam Chorvador' for the purchase of four expensive smartphones (iPhone 13 Pro Max), and the payment was made. Moreover, Jizzakh State Pedagogical Institute made a payment of UZS19.1mn ($1,511) through an electronic trading platform for a contract with the private enterprise 'Odilov Abdulhamid ugli' for the purchase of iPhone 15 Pro Max," one finding stated.

The findings indicated that in the first few months of this year, the smartphone spending continued at a similar rate.

The committee has presented its audit results to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Jamshid Kuchkarov. It has proposed that the Financial Control Inspection unit investigate the situation.