Senate OKs National Budget and New Bills
On 13-14 December 2018, during the seventeenth plenary session of the Senate of Oliy Majlis in Tashkent, members of the upper house discussed 30 issues, including 18 draft laws aimed at increasing the effectiveness of large-scale reforms implemented in the country, at developing international cooperation.
Parliamentarians began work with a review of the issue of the State Budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan, budgets of state trust funds and the main directions of tax and budget policy for 2019.
In 2019, state budget revenues are projected at 102.6 trillion soums, which means an increase of 38% compared with 2018, and the total amount of expenditures of the state budget is 107.1 trillion soums, or 36.4% more than the current year.
At the same time, the national budget expenditures on the social sphere will amount to more than 57.8 trillion soums, or 54% of all expenses (an increase of 34.4% compared to 2018). Expenditures on education will increase by 25.5% percent compared with the current year and amount to 28.4 trillion soums, or 49% of all expenses. The cost of health care will grow by 30.5 percent compared to 2018 and amount to 12.1 trillion soums, or 11.3% of total expenditures. Expenditures on social benefits, on material assistance to low-income families and payment of compensation will amount to 5.2 trillion soums, which is 61.8% more than in 2018.
As part of state programs “Obod Qishloq” and “Obod Mahalla”, 6.3 trillion soums will be allocated to improve living conditions in 478 localities from all sources of financing. The state budget deficit for 2019 is projected at 1.1% of GDP.
In accordance with the Concept of Improving Tax Policy, in 2019, the rate of tax on legal entities is reduced from 14% to 12%, for commercial banks from 22% to 20%. The tax burden on the wage fund is also reduced by introducing a uniform tax rate for individuals on all individuals at a rate of 12%, of which 0.1% goes to individual savings pension accounts. In addition, it provides for the abolition of insurance contributions of citizens in the extra-budgetary Pension Fund, withheld from citizens' income in the form of wages.
In the national budget for the coming year, special attention is paid to the issues of improving the system of remuneration of public sector employees. In the coming year, it was proposed to increase wages, pensions, social benefits and scholarships every six months in an amount not lower than the inflation rate of the previous year. From January 1, 2019, it is envisaged to determine the size of social benefits in absolute amount.
Following the discussion, a resolution of the Senate of Oliy Majlis on the State Budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan, budgets of state trust funds and the main directions of tax and budget policy for 2019 was adopted.
Senators reviewed the Law on the Protection of Victims, Witnesses, and Other Participants in a Criminal Procedure. It provides for a list of protected persons, establishes a range of state bodies ensuring their protection. It also provides for such security measures as ensuring the confidentiality of information about the protected person, personal protection, protection of the home and other property, issuance of special personal protective equipment and equipment, temporary placement in a safe place, relocation to another place of residence, change of place of work or study, replacement of documents, restriction of access to information about the protected person.
At the same time, in accordance with the law, the protected persons are obliged to fulfill the legal requirements of the body ensuring their safety, immediately inform them about each case of threat or unlawful actions against themselves, protect the property issued for safety, not disclose information about the security measures taken against themselves. The law was approved by the senators.
The parliamentarians also considered the Law “On introducing amendments and addenda to some legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan aimed at improving the mechanisms for ensuring public order”.
Changes and additions to criminal and administrative legislation relate to specific measures to strengthen public order in the country and are aimed at establishing responsibility for engaging in begging, involving minors and the elderly, people with mental illness and disabilities in this process. The changes also affected labor laws, simplified some provisions concerning
the procedure for hiring and employer's responsibility in this process.
It was noted that the law will help prevent cases of begging using infants and children, minors, persons with disabilities and the elderly, protect the moral foundations of society, prevent excessive consumption or abuse of energy drinks, as well as protect the health of citizens, promote a healthy lifestyle among the population.
Approved the Law “On introducing amendments and addenda to some legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan aimed at improving the activities of individual state bodies”. The document provides for the introduction of amendments and additions to 17 laws and six codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which are aimed at further ensuring optimal conditions for the state bodies to fulfill the tasks set before them, improving the mechanism of public control over their activities.
For example, the law introduces an order according to which adult individuals who are constantly registered at the address of the housing object are jointly and severally liable for obligations to pay for the electricity, gas supply, water supply and wastewater (sewage) services rendered.
The members of the Senate heard the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the activities of the bodies of internal affairs in the field of combating crime and preventing crime.
It was noted that as a result of the reforms being carried out, the structure of the internal affairs agencies was radically reorganized, operational service activities, the workers in this sphere are now completely different requirements so that they truly serve the people and are close to it. At the same time, special attention is paid to the revitalization of the work of relevant structures in remote settlements. To this end, offices and support points of internal affairs were additionally organized; the number of prevention inspectors was increased.
It was emphasized that recently the attention of all law enforcement agencies was directed to the early prevention of crime directly in the mahallas and the formation of an uncompromising attitude among the population to any types of offenses.
As of today, at the end of each month, 198 deputy heads of internal affairs departments on youth issues reported to the district and city Kengashes of people’s deputies and about 7 thousand preventive inspectors to residents of communities.
Despite this, it cannot be said that at present the trust of citizens in the employees of internal affairs is at the proper level. Although the facts of violation of service discipline were sharply reduced, there are still cases of offenses, rudeness in relations with citizens. In this regard, the senators stressed the need to further strengthen the work in this direction, increasing the responsibility of law enforcement officers.
The parliamentarians also heard a report by the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the activities of the ministry in carrying out the assigned tasks. It was noted that some work has been done in this direction. In particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and foreign institutions of the country assisted in signing more than 80 documents in the sphere of trade and economic cooperation totaling more than $ 6 billion between ministries, departments, hokimiyats and companies of the Republic of Uzbekistan and foreign partners.
Constant work is being done to attract foreign investment. In particular, as of the end of November 2018, 372 projects for a total of $ 21 billion were under study by representative offices of Uzbekistan abroad. Overseas agencies held about 250 presentations of the tourism potential of Uzbekistan. Diplomatic missions took part in more than 50 tourism exhibitions and fairs.
However, the study and analysis of the obtained data shows the presence of significant untapped potential, as well as a number of unsolved problems and shortcomings.
In particular, there is still a lack of interdepartmental coordination; there is no clear “feedback” mechanism with ministries and departments of the republic on the implementation of developed projects or on the outcomes of visits, which limits access to the real picture of bilateral cooperation and the preparation of actual recommendations for its further development.
When interacting with ministries and departments on promoting the export of domestic goods, attracting investment and tourists, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic missions still face the problem of a lengthy review by the relevant departments and hokimiyats of the areas of proposals received from foreign agencies. This causes a forced cancellation or postponement of a number of important bilateral events.
In the work of hokimiyats, there is still a lack of interdepartmental coordination, a formal attitude to the development of specific plans for cooperation with foreign partners. Before the visit, there is no remote work with investors; the terms of cooperation, the amount of contracts are not negotiated. As a result, meetings are limited to signing model memoranda of cooperation instead of concluding specific contracts and targeted agreements.
The effectiveness of the work of overseas institutions is adversely affected by their excessive workload on the preparation of numerous reports. This circumstance, especially in view of the limited number of employees, does not allow concentrating on work aimed at a specific result. To date, there is still a lack of highquality and informative materials about the investment potential of Uzbekistan in foreign languages. Senators made recommendations to further improve the effectiveness of the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thus, when drawing up work plans for 2019 by overseas agencies of the Republic of Uzbekistan, it is necessary to ensure faster export rates compared to imports, as well as an increase in tourist flow, especially from farabroad countries.
It was also noted the need to introduce into practice the organization of regular study group trips to regions of the republic for newly arrived employees of diplomatic missions accredited in Uzbekistan to promote the investment and tourism potential of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and regions of the country.
Senators also considered the issue of sending a parliamentary inquiry to the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov on the state of enforcement of legislation on the entry and passage of military service under the contract and law enforcement practice in this area. It was noted that as a result of measures taken in this area, the level of professionalism of military personnel, their intellectual and military training increased, their legal and social protection increased, the prestige and authority of military service among the population, especially among young people, sharply increased.
However, field studies, contacts with the public, and familiarization with their appeals showed that there are a number of problems associated with entering military service under a contract, extension of the term and dismissal from service. The study showed that military service under the contract is a complex process. There are many bureaucratic obstacles, moreover, this procedure is not transparent. The dates for the completion and completion of certain stages, as well as the responsibility of officials related to this, are not defined. In addition, there is no uniform legal mechanism for the social adaptation of former military personnel, especially military personnel who do not have seniority, which gives them the right to receive a pension, by ensuring their employment, training and retraining.
The senators considered the question of sending a parliamentary inquiry on the conditions created for the education of young people with disabilities to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan A. Abduhakimov.
It was noted that at the initiative of the head of state in the last two years more than 21.5 thousand persons with disabilities and socially vulnerable families were provided with housing. The system of state support for people with disabilities has been fundamentally improved; the procedure for their admission to study at higher educational institutions on the basis of additional state grant quotas has been developed.
However, despite the fact that the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the laws “On Education”, “On Guarantees of the Rights of the Child”, “On Social Security of Disabled Persons in the Republic of Uzbekistan” secure the right of everyone to receive knowledge, persons with disabilities cannot fully use this right. There are still a number of problems that impede the realization of their rights to education.
Other issues related to the powers of the Senate of Oliy Majlis were also considered by members of the upper house.