On April 3, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a videoconference session to discuss supporting entrepreneurship in the context of countering the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Before expounding on the agenda, the head of state addressed the people again on the pressing issue.
“Today, the whole world is experiencing thorny times. All essential measures are being taken in our country to meet the epidemiological situation and to protect public health comprehensively.
The number of cases with coronavirus infection detected in Uzbekistan has reached 221. Unfortunate as it is, the medical assistance notwithstanding, two patients have died. On my own behalf and on behalf of all our people, I express deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, I wish them patience and strength.
100 thousand people are locked down today in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, almost 13 thousand of our citizens have been returned to the country, and are also placed in quarantine. A ten-thousand-bed shutdown zone is currently being erected in the Tashkent region. More than 2.2 thousand citizens who have come from abroad have already been placed there.
In addition, two virology hospitals for 10 thousand beds are being built in the Zangiata district. In the coming days, two thousand beds will be put into operation in them.
To date, 245 thousand tests and about 700 thousand pieces of protective equipment have been imported and delivered to medical institutions. This work is in full swing.
Diagnostic and treatment works, quarantine measures are carried out with an eye to the recommendations of the World Health Organization and international best practices. Qualified doctors have arrived from South Korea, and they have been participating in the treatment of patients. We expect a group of Chinese experts, too.
In addition, our doctors maintain constant video communication with colleagues abroad and share experiences.
I should say the systemic measures we are taking have been yielding fruit. Thus, 25 patients have fully recovered and been transferred to rehabilitation institutions.
I will take this opportunity to once again express my deep gratitude to our dedicated and gracious doctors who have shown daring and stamina once in the forefront of this struggle.
I am grateful to our people, our dear compatriots, who properly understand the situation and actively support us.
In the meantime, it is regrettable to note that, despite all sorts of warnings and clarifications, the local lockdown rules continue to be violated.
To date, more than 22 thousand such cases have been detected, 330 people have fled from the quarantine zone. One can barely justify the decision of some irresponsible persons to hold 24 ceremonies of various kinds with the mass participation of people amid the shutdown. Strict measures will be taken on these reckless actions that threaten the life of our entire people.
I would like to assure that the state will do its best to prevent the wide spread of coronavirus. However, during these trial days, we all – every citizen, every government agency, representatives of the wider public – must act as a single fist. First of all, it is ourselves who is responsible for protecting our mahalla, our home, our family from the coronavirus.
In some countries, the daily lifestyle rooted in high hygiene culture and national customs have been rather instrumental in overwhelming the disease.
Thus, the densely populated Japan, with its incredibly advanced trade relations with neighboring nations, has been able to curb the extensive contamination of the virus.
Experts explain this Japanese phenomenon by the adherence to 13 rules and customs, including the manner of greeting, the habit of maintaining interpersonal distance, frequent change of clothes, regular washing of hands, thorough bathing, proper nutrition, active lifestyle and sports.
This, in turn, requires that we hold fast to the customs inherent in our culture since times immemorial, including the way of greeting by putting our hands on our hearts, watering the hands of guests, keeping distance in public, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
It is crucial to continue work on the regular disinfection of public places, mahallas and homes. All enterprises and organizations ought to conduct a systematic medical examination of their employees on a weekly basis.
We all appreciate the dedication of our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, conscientiously performing their duty in spite of difficulties.
We need to rein in the dissemination of information sowing panic and which misleads people.
I believe our venerable grandfathers and grandmothers will set a bright example of compassion, patience and perseverance.
Let me appeal to students and young people studying at home:
Dear children, do not waste time in vain! Learn online lessons hard. Read books, increase your knowledge, practice sports at home every day.
The warm springtime is knocking on the door. Life continues despite difficulties. Our farmers and dehkans, entrepreneurs are facing rather critical challenges.
Surely, every one of us must continue our work by fully observing security measures and sanitation rules. After all, it will be hard tomorrow to make up for today’s losses, and time can scarcely be reversed.
Like all the nations of the world, we are working hard to contain the pandemic. We are devising required plans designed to help preserve people’s incomes and the steady operation of our enterprises.
On March 19, I signed a decree on priority measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on our economy. The government and local authorities have been enforcing these measures.
Today I have adopted another important decree aimed at supporting our economy and entrepreneurs in the current intricate conditions. No matter how complicated it may be, or whatever immense budget expenditures it may require, I have decided to take additional measures.
Thus, the decree envisages the following:
First, entrepreneurs in the tourism and hospitality industry are exempt from paying land tax and property tax through to the end of this year. For them, the social tax rate is cut from the current 12 to 1 percent. More than 1 thousand entities providing tourism services will be able to take advantage of this privilege.
Second, the calculation of a fixed amount of personal income tax and social tax will be shelved for individual entrepreneurs who are forced to suspend their activities for the period of quarantine. This benefit will help out nearly 150 thousand individual businesspeople.
Third, small businesses, whose revenue has decreased by 50 percent compared with the previous month, are granted the right to defer payment of taxes on sales, land tax, property tax, social and water taxes until October 1 this year. Crucially, entrepreneurs can notify the tax office about the use of this benefit without leaving home.
Fourth, starting from 1 April 2020, the mandatory requirement for corporate entities to make prepayments for gas and electricity is reduced from the current 100 to 30 percent.
Fifth, the scale of assistance to entrepreneurs from the Entrepreneurship Development Support Fund will expand.
Currently, the Fund compensates to entrepreneurs 8 percent of expenses on loans, whose interest rate does not exceed 24 percent. From now on, the state will compensate 12 percent of expenses on loans with an interest rate of up to 28 percent.
For this, entrepreneurs will be allocated an additional 400 billion soums from the Fund to cover interest on loans worth 3 trillion soums. The restriction on the provision of a guarantee for only one project per entrepreneur will also be lifted.
The Fund will provide guarantees to entrepreneurs with a positive credit history in the amount of up to 75 percent of the loan amount (currently it is 50 percent). The upper limit of the guarantee amount will be increased from the current 8 billion to 10 billion soums.
Sixth, on loans totaling 12 trillion soums for enterprises, the population and individual entrepreneurs who find themselves in a difficult situation, the deadlines for fulfilling loan obligations will be extended.
I also have signed a separate resolution on the financial support for cotton-textile clusters that are just on their feet and today create many new jobs in rural areas. In accordance with the resolution, the repayment period for loans that they took in 2019 for harvesting cotton is extended through to October 1.
Seventh, a number of measures are being identified to support the population, especially its socially vulnerable categories.
In particular, until the end of this year, customs duties and excise taxes will not be levied on the import of such basic consumer goods as flour, vegetable oil, meat and dairy products, sugar, and hygiene goods.
At the same time, the payment of benefits to families with children, child care and material assistance, which expires in March-June of the current year, is automatically extended from 6 months to 1 year without the need for applying and submitting documents. The payment of these benefits to other needy families will also continue.
Thanks to these measures, we will cover more than 120 thousand low-income families (currently 600 thousand).
During the quarantine period, single elderly people and persons with disabilities will be provided with basic foodstuffs of 18 kinds and hygiene products free of charge.
Eighth, we will enhance support for home-based business activities.
For example, over 28 thousand artisans operate in the country. Last year, we allocated 50 million dollars to them, and in the framework of 12.5 thousand projects the craftspeople trained more than 75 thousand disciples.
This year, another 50 million dollars will be channeled to the sphere. The amenities will serve as a great opportunity for handicraftsmen.
Dear artisans! Your work, your new initiatives in the current environment can make a worthy contribution to ensuring employment.
Entrepreneurs, artisans and farmers, business leaders should take advantage of the opportunities provided.
Crucially, it is necessary to look for nonconventional solutions on the ground, to preserve production volumes and jobs, to secure the continuous work of enterprises.
Heads of sectors of regions, districts and towns, agencies of the economic complex should review their plans and work methods based on this criterion.
In other words, every one of these executives must discretely approach the problems of enterprises, entrepreneurs, and switch to manual control in addressing them.
Dear compatriots, our venerable mothers and fathers, beloved children!
This challenging time, which has affected everyone without exception and from which the whole world suffers, is sure to pass. Just imagine what troubles, wars, and famine periods our great and noble people has had to overcome with courage throughout its centuries-old history!
I feel completely convinced that we will triumph this time, as well, with dignity.
If we all unite even more, be patient and persistent, fully comply with the recommendations of doctors, we can defeat this disease sooner rather than later!
In addition to medical measures, we must show high consciousness, iron discipline, patience and responsibility.
These qualities should become our most critical and effective tool in this effort.
Our nation, with its track record of success over severest of cataclysms, will come through with strength, restraint and wisdom and with the help of the Almighty.
I am fully confident in the insight, the lasting will and determination of our brave, steadfast and caring people.
Not a single person, not a single family in Uzbekistan will be left without attention and care of our state and society!
May the Almighty safeguard all of us and rather deliver our people and all mankind from this scourge!