Revisiting Free Economic Zones
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting devoted to the analysis of the effectiveness of activities on development of free economic and small industrial zones established in the country.
The Action Strategy on five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021 outlines a number of tasks on strengthening macroeconomic stability, actively attracting investment in the economy and regions, especially foreign ones, creation of favorable conditions for development of private entrepreneurship on the basis of privatized state facilities, socio-economic development of districts and cities. Important in this regard is the ongoing activity on improving the efficiency of free economic zones, technoparks and small industrial zones, creation of new ones.
In accordance with the decree of the Head of our state on additional measures of activating and expanding free economic zones of October 26, 2016, even more favorable conditions have been created for this work.
Currently, there are 14 free economic zones in the country. 62 projects worth 486 million dollars are realized in “Navoi”, “Angren”, “Jizzakh”, “Urgut”, “Gijduvan”, “Kokand” and “Khazarasp” FEZ, more than 4,6 thousand workplaces are created. Active work is being also carried out on development of 7 new free economic zones specialized in pharmaceutics: “Nukus-pharm”, “Zomin-pharm”, “Kosonsoy-pharm”, “Sirdaryo-pharm”, “Boysun-pharm”, “Bustonlik-pharm” and “Parkent-pharm”.
At the meeting, the unsatisfactory state of activities on establishment of new and improving the effectiveness of the existing FEZ, the need in this regard for simplifying organizational procedures, increasing the attraction of investors and entrepreneurs was noted.
On behalf of the President of our country, a separate credit line in foreign currency was opened at the expense of the Fund for Reconstruction and Development of Uzbekistan in the amount of 100 million dollars for accelerating the implementation of investment projects in free economic zones, acquisition of imported high-tech equipment.
The directorates (boards) of small industrial zones are organized. In order to prevent problems with obtaining credit and access to banking services, a certain commercial bank is assigned to each zone. Proposals and a list of promising projects for entrepreneurs have been developed based on the study of market requirements and the nomenclature of imports. Entities operating in these industrial zones have been released from all taxes for two years.
President of our country Shavkat Mirziyoyev during his visit to the Republic of Karakalpakstan, districts and the regions of Tashkent examined the buildings and structures that had been empty for many years and gave instructions on effectively using these facilities, organizing new enterprises, establishment of small industrial zones on their basis. As a result, the number of small industrial zones in our country reached 96.
By now, 1,021 projects worth 535 billion sums have been implemented in these territories. As a result of involvement of new enterprises, more than 9.6 thousand workplaces were created. Within the framework of projects, products of light, chemical, food industry, electrical engineering, modern construction materials, furniture and other products are in demand not only in the domestic market, but also in the foreign market. In addition, it is planned to create 11 thousand new workplaces as a result of implementation of 248 projects.
During the meeting, special attention was paid to the role of small industrial zones that are being established in attracting investments, organizing new workplaces and, on this basis, improving the well-being of the population.
President of our country Shavkat Mirziyoyev criticized activities of the heads of relevant ministries, departments and business entities, noted the lack of initiative and organization of activities on development of free economic zones and small industrial zones.
In particular, it remains a complex and often formal procedure for reviewing and approving projects by authorized ministries and departments. The facts of bureaucracy are still being observed when solving the issues of allocating land for participants of free economic zones.
Activities on attraction of foreign investments in creating new industries in the newly created “Urgut”, “Kokand”, “Gijduvan” and “Khazarasp” FEZ, as well as in all pharmaceutical free economic zones does not meet due requirements. There are problems in stable and timely maintenance of free economic and small industrial zones with electricity, natural gas, water, in general engineering communication networks.
The Head of our state instructed to develop a set of measures on eliminating shortcomings in free economic and small industrial zones, creating more opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs.
The need was emphasized, first of all, for revising the normative-legal framework for the development of activities of these zones, bringing it in line with modern requirements, creating an open and understandable mechanism for all.
Special attention was also paid to the issue of simplifying the procedure for allocating land plots and vacant buildings. In particular, projects to be implemented in free economic zones will be considered by the Administrative Council under the Cabinet of Ministers. So far, this council has included 17 ministries and agencies. According to the instruction of the President of our country, their number has been reduced to 4.
In this direction, a new system has been created - territorial commissions, their rights to review projects and to authorize their implementation have been expanded. The criteria for selection of investment projects for placement in economic zones will be reviewed, additional measures will be taken on improvement of lending conditions for participants of free economic zones and providing engineering communications.
In this regard, at the meeting, instructions were given on adoption of effective measures aimed at timely provision of enterprises located in free economic and small industrial zones with all necessary engineering and communication networks and infrastructure.