The State Assets Management Agency of Uzbekistan (UzSAMA) in partnership with the World Bank organized an International Forum called ‘Transformation and Privatization of the State-Owned Enterprises in Uzbekistan: A New Stage of Economic Reforms’. The event participants discussed the current and planned reforms in this area.
The International Forum was attended by over 400 online and offline participants from around the world. They included representatives of international financial institutions, investment and consulting companies, commercial banks, local and international businessmen. Journalists of the world's leading media outlets, including The Economist, Financial Times, Bloombrerg and Reuters, joined the event.
The International Forum was jointly opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction, Jamshid Kuchkarov, and the World Bank’s Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde.
The Forum participants discussed the progress Uzbekistan has achieved in implementing reforms on transformation and privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with the aim to reduce the state’s footprint in the economy. Theу looked critically at the current challenges and opportunities related to this process.
It was noted that around 2,500 SOEs are currently operating across the country. Their reduction will help to attract additional private investment in various sectors and improve the business environment for vibrant private sector growth.
“The Forum was a timely and necessary event creating space to discuss international best practice with experts dealing with the issues of privatization and transformation of state-owned enterprises in different states. We used this opportunity to reassure our international partners and representatives of the business community that the Government of Uzbekistan is strongly committed to further liberalize and reform the domestic economy”, said Akhmalkhon Ortikov, Director of UzSAMA.
Experts representing international financial institutions and organizations, including the World Bank Group, IMF, EBRD, ADB, UNDP, OECD, and AFD (French Development Agency), spoke about the experience of other successful transition economies in implementing effective privatization and SOE reform programs.
Lessons from these experiences highlight the importance of well-sequenced and transparent privatization and state enterprise reforms. These reforms are critical to the emergence of a strong and competitive private sector, and for a more inclusive and dynamic economy, the experts noted.
“Today’s discussions highlighted cases from Europe and East Asia that emphasize the importance of careful sequencing, prioritization, and transparency in the reform process. They also emphasize the importance of ensuring strong safety nets and labor market interventions to support those who may become displaced by the reform of state-owned enterprises.
Looking ahead, the World Bank reaffirms its support to the Government of Uzbekistan as it enters this important phase of reforms to expand competitive private sector growth. Along with several other international financial institutions and development partners, we look forward to working closely with the Government to implement an effective and transparent privatization process,” stated Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for Uzbekistan.
A constructive exchange of views and analysis of international best practices during the International Forum allowed the event participants to develop practical recommendations for improving the efficiency of management, reforming and privatizing state-owned enterprises, which will help the Uzbekistan achieve even greater progress in this area.