Interview with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan Kahramon SARIEV.
— 2021 was one of the turning points in the history of the New Uzbekistan. Despite the pandemic, the country’s GDP grew by 7.4%. The contribution of the Republic of Karakalpakstan to this success is also significant. What are the results of the Republic of Karakalpakstan over the past year?
— If we pay attention to the main macroeconomic indicators of the socio-economic development of the Republic of Karakalpakstan for 2021, the following results were achieved last year: gross regional product increased by 107.4%, industrial production — by 107.4%, agricultural production — by 103.7%, construction — by 110.5% and the service sector — by 119.3%. Foreign investments in the amount of $64.6 million have been mastered in our republic. Last year, goods worth $123.7 million were exported and, compared to 2020, the volume of exports amounted to 122%, and the number of exporting enterprises exceeded 50.
— In 2021, the total foreign trade turnover of the Republic of Karakalpakstan amounted to about $657.2 million. This is 21.9% more than in 2020. In your opinion, which industries have the potential to increase regional exports?
— In 2021, exports of chemical and petrochemical products amounted to $284 million, and exports of light industry products amounted to $105 million. These industries exported goods worth a total of $389 million. In 2022, there are opportunities to increase the volume of exports of goods from these industries to $420 million.
It is also expected that in 2022 licorice root will be exported in the amount of $38.1 million (in 2021 the export volume amounted to $33.3 million), artemia cysts in the amount of $15.1 million dollars (in 2021 — $11.9 million), fruits and vegetables in the amount of $20.5 million (in 2021 — $12.2 million).
— How is tourism developing in the Republic of Karakalpakstan? Will Karakalpakstan be able to become a major center of the extreme tourism in the Central Asian region in the future?
— In recent years, much attention has been paid to tourism in our country. In order to develop this sector and attract a large influx of foreign tourists, the Government has adopted a number of resolutions, and major projects are being implemented. Like all regions of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Karakalpakstan is distinguished by its unique features that are attractive to visitors. The history, culture, traditions, as well as the unique nature and landscape of Karakalpakstan play an important role in further increasing the tourism potential of the region.
Currently, there are 33 hotels, 35 family guest houses, 16 hostels, 23 tourist class vehicles, more than 200 tourist attractions (craft workshops, amusement parks, museums, water parks and water attractions) in the region.
In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated January 27, 2022 PP-104 “On additional measures for the development of the service sector”, loans in the amount of 35 billion sums were allocated in the Republic of Karakalpakstan in 2022 as part of the family business development programme.
Thus, in 2022, 69 new family guest houses will be built in the Ellikkalin, Muynak, Chimbay, Kungrad and Khojailiy districts of the republic. At the same time, 6 dormitories, 10 yurt camps, 3 car camps, 30 eco-houses, 10 container and 10 tent camps will be organized, 10 tour operators will be created, as a result – more than 500 people will be provided with jobs.
In 2021, 200 thousand tourists visited the Republic of Karakalpakstan as a part of ecotourism. The projects of the Aral Sea, Sudochye Lake, Urga village, Nizhneamudarya State Biosphere Reserve, Ustyurt Plain, Barsakelmessky Salt Marsh, Akchakul Lake, Karatereng Lake and the Innovation Center are the ecotourism projects.
In 2022, Jasmine Gold Group LLC is implementing an ecotourism project (for accommodation of guests, food, recreation, sports, quad biking and boating) on the shore of the Aral Sea with a total cost of $4 billion sums. As a result of launching the project, 15 new jobs will be created.
— From this year the work on the makhalla method has begun in Uzbekistan. The assistants to the khokims (head of the local administration) also joined the work with local population. How do you rate their work? Which of the assistants can you note as an example to follow?
— As you know, by Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan UP-29 dated December 3, 2021 “On priority directions of state policy for the development of entrepreneurship, employment and poverty reduction in the makhalla” and in accordance with Resolution PP-31 “On measures to organize the activities of assistants to the khokims on entrepreneurship development, employment population and poverty reduction in the makhalla” the post of assistant to the khokim was established.
We have studied candidates for these positions and 424 candidates were nominated for 424 makhallas among the heads and officials working in the fields of economics, finance, tax complex, commercial banks, housing and communal services, social sphere and agriculture according to the results of the competition. Currently, 424 appointed assistants work in makhallas, and 19 heads of ministries and departments in the districts (cities) organize field work to provide them with practical assistance.
In the Republic of Karakalpakstan, in a short period of time, i.e., over the past two months, a number of measures have been carried out on the new “Makhallabay” system, positive changes have been achieved and the assistants is well appreciated. This is evidenced by the fact that the work of Bakhtiyar Menglibekov, an assistant to the khokim of the Madeli makhalla in the Buynak district, was highly appreciated, and he was appointed as khokim of the same district. Special measures have been defined for the appointment of those assistants who will achieve high results to such positions, and in the future the implementation of these measures will be ensured.
As a result of such approaches, the “Mahallabay” system, created in the regions for the socio-economic development of makhallas, expansion of family business, increase in income of the population and reduction of unemployment, will surely bear fruit.