President Shavkat Mirziyoyev yesterday signed Measures to Further Ensure Food Security in Uzbekistan Decree. The document notes "the existence of serious systemic problems that facilitate the preservation of unhealthy competition, monopolizing by some entities of imports, artificial deficit and facts of unjustified overpricing for some items, which resulted in super profits made on this basis.
Starting from February 1, 2018, it is planned to scrap customs, tax and other benefits and preferences granted to some entities for importing of food products and to prohibit the Cabinet of Ministers from granting such preferences.
It is acknowledged in the decree that dominant position of some importers has been facilitated through their being provided with benefits and preferences, as well as existence of exclusive conditions for them, which has resulted in restricted access for other business entities.
The current situation reduces the business activity in Uzbekistan and its investment attractiveness and seriously damages the country's reputation in the world, the document says.
Within a month, a set of measures should be developed for the year 2018 to search and attract food products suppliers, create equal conditions for them to enter the market, assist them in concluding contracts, transportation and storage of imported products, as well as other measures aimed at full meeting the demand of the population for quality and affordable food products.
Specialized storage facilities, cold rooms, as well as facilities for processing and packaging of food products should be created in all provinces of the country on the public-private partnership terms.
The ban on selling and purchasing consumer goods at commodity exchanges, introduced in 2002, will be lifted.
No wholesale trade license will be required to purchase and sell food products at e-trades of commodity exchanges.
When obtaining a license for wholesale trade, the requirement for the existence of a statutory fund in the amount not less than 3,500 times the minimum wage, of which in cash - at least 1,200 times the minimum wage, is now abolished.
Local sugar producers shall until January 1, 2019 be exempted from paying value added tax in part of the volumes produced on the basis of imported raw materials.
The decree established that import of socially significant types of food products from the Price Stabilization Fund is carried out in exceptional cases and only through the system of open e-trading of commodity exchanges, including foreign ones. Detailed information on the planned purchases of food products, income and expenditure of the fund is published monthly on the Portal for Public Services.
Brokers will be allowed to submit applications to banks for purchase (sale) of foreign currency on behalf of non-resident client with cash made from sale of products at commodity exchanges, and non-residents - legal entities - to open accounts in Uzbekistan’s banks and to purchase (sell) foreign currency with cash made from sale of products at commodity exchanges.
The decree provides for preparing of a draft food security bill, which will include measures to provide local markets with quality, safe and affordable food products, develop the agricultural complex, introduce effective mechanisms for social and public-private partnerships, timely eliminate threats to the stability of food market and flexible customs - tariff regulation of food imports.
The Prosecutor General's Office, together with other bodies, are instructed, within two months, to prepare proposals for optimizing the of customs fee rates, eliminating unnecessary barriers and obstacles, simplifying the for customs clearance procedures and reducing the cost of export-import transactions, including by switching to the single-window principle.
In addition, a critical analysis of the legislation regulating retail trade and provision of services is to be conducted subject to eliminating of unnecessary barriers and obstacles, as well as unreasonable state regulation measures.
Heads of the State Customs Committee and its territorial units are strictly warned about "personal liability for allowing the creation of artificial barriers, red tape and abuse during customs procedures."