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TAJIKISTAN


 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,208 1,100 991,000 147
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 180 180 180 196
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
143,100 

Population 
6,863,752

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital 
Dushanbe

Currency 
Tajik Somoni

President 
Emomali Rakhmonov

  

Update No: 284 - (27/08/04)

The Tajiks are in a predicament. They are convinced by the evidence of other countries that communism was a bad thing, in the long run. But they were far better off under communist rule than they are now.
Independence in 1991 increased Tajikistan's freedom, most notably its religious freedom, but its inhabitants have struggled to build a self-sustaining economy or one that could make use of the country's high level of literacy.
"Life was very good here during Soviet times," explains Yorali, a local artist who like most Tajiks has one name.
"Now the only people who live above subsistence level work for aid organisations or traffic drugs, and that's only about 10% of the population," Yorali says. He is one of the lucky ones: In addition to being an artist, he works for the Aga Khan Development Network trying to find new markets for traditional Tajik handicrafts. His salary of US$70, or nearly €60, per month is far above the local average of US$15.

The literate legacy of the Soviet Union
It is worth remembering that the Soviet legacy was not wholly bad; it did involve a very high degree of education. More than 99% of the population in the Badakhstan province in the Pamir mountains is reckoned to be literate. The people of this area are Shia Ismaili Muslims, and they revere their 49th imam, the Aga Khan, as their spiritual leader. To some extent, donations from his foundations have replaced Soviet-era subsidies. Getting Yorali to talk about the network's projects, though, can be difficult. Over vodka and cigarettes, he prefers discussing Pushkin and Dostoyevsky, and, of course, his art. When you ask him what he does, he replies that his is first an artist, second an aid worker.

Anomalies in government media policy
Declaring he wants to foster press freedom in Tajikistan, President Imomali Rakhmonov has called for significant tax breaks for the country's newspapers and periodicals. However, the Tajik government appears in no hurry to implement Rakhmonov's directive. 
Official foot-dragging, along with the fact that broadcast media outlets would not be eligible for tax breaks, has produced frustration among journalists. Some media observers suggest that Rakhmonov is more concerned with enhancing his public image than with encouraging an independent press. 
Rakhmonov, in a March 20 address, spoke of a need to promote a greater degree of freedom in Tajikistan's "information space." At present, there are no daily newspapers in Tajikistan, and the majority of publications are state-owned. The Tajik president outlined a print-media expansion strategy, the central element of which is an exemption from paying the 20 per cent value added tax. 
"In order to develop [print] media further and ensure its independence … the Tajik government is instructed to exempt them from the VAT," Rakhmonov said. 
At the same time, the president indicated that the concept of press freedom remained open to subjective interpretation. "The media, regardless of its ownership, is equally responsible for observing the current laws and ensuring the country's information and cultural security," Rakhmonov said. "This responsibility demands of journalists a developed sense … of patriotism and the protection of Tajikistan's state and national interests." 
Print journalists were initially encouraged by Rakhmonov's words. But optimism has been dulled by a lack of government action. From the start, officials have been vague on implementation details. 
"I cannot name a date of the VAT cancellation for printed media. The government must decide this. To begin with, this offer must be studied and then it is necessary to adopt some laws. Although it is possible that if they do adopt a similar law, it will be included in the new Tax Code, which is probably going to be put in place next year," the Deputy Minister for State Revenue and Duties Bakhtier Sultonov told the newspaper Asia Plus in early April. 
At present, the Tajik parliament is reworking a bill on tax regulations for print media after its first draft, submitted in mid April, was criticized for providing inadequate relief. Although parliamentarians and journalists were reluctant to speak about the details of original bill's wording, one newspaper editor classified it as a stab in the back. This editor said the mid-April draft would only have covered a few newspapers, saving them only small sums of money. Also, it would have cost significantly more to implement the changes than it would have saved. 

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ENERGY

Dushanbe, Tehran cooperate on Sangtuda power plant project


Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov received visiting Iranian Minister of Energy Habibullo Betaraf on August 2nd. During the meeting it was noted that Tajikistan and Iran have good potentials for expanding cooperation in the field of use of water and energy resources, the presidential press service has reported.
"Under certain conditions, when neighbouring countries, first of all, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Kazakstan have needs in electric power, cooperation on building the Sangtuda power plant in Tajikistan would meet the interests both of Iran and Tajikistan," a spokesman for the Tajik president, Abdufattoh Sharipov, quoted Rahmonov and Betaraf as saying at the meeting.
According to Sharipov, Rahmonov and Betaraf expressed hope that the upcoming visit of Iranian President Said Muhammad Khatami to Tajikistan scheduled for September of the current year will start works on the construction of the Sangtuda power plant, and Tajikistan and Iran with their hydropower facilities will hold sustainable positions on the markets of Central Asia and Russia.
According to data from the Tajik Ministry of Economy and Trade, Tajikistan's exports to Iran amounted to US$18m (70% of the trade turnover between the two countries). Joint construction of the Sangtuda hydroelectric power is practicable and the working out of an agreement on financing of this project is nearing completion, Iranian Energy Minister, Habibullo Betaraf, told Asia-Plus News Agency following his meeting with President Rahmonov.
The Iranian minister recalled that an agreement between Tajikistan and Iran on a joint project to complete the construction of the Sangtuda hydropower plant in Tajikistan was signed last year.
The preparatory stage for the construction of this 660 megawatt plant has been completed. Some US$400m of investments are necessary to complete the construction of the plant.
Several other countries have announced their intention to join an international consortium to build the Sangtuda power plant, Betaraf said. He also told journalists that two memorandums had been signed during his visit to Tajikistan.
Under these memorandums, Iran is ready to participate in the construction of 15 small power plants in Tajikistan and cooperate in training of the Tajik energy personnel, according to the Iranian energy official, press reports said.
Issues related to the prospects for exporting energy from Tajikistan and launching a joint venture for studying hydraulic works and training of personnel as well as enhancement of management of water resources in Tajikistan were discussed. Iranian Minister of Energy Habibullo Betaraf visited the Tajik aluminium plant and familiarised himself with a progress of the construction of Sangtuda and Roghun hydropower plants and the Norak hydroelectric power station.
According to information from the Iranian embassy in Dushanbe, during the visit to Tajikistan in September this year, Iranian President Khatami will take part at a ceremony for the beginning of works on the construction of the Sangtuda plant and will attend a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in Dushanbe.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Tajikistan, Moldova to up ties

Tajikistan and Moldova plan to sign a programme of long-term trade and economic cooperation designed for 2004-2013. The draft programme has been sent for consideration to the government of Tajikistan and the Tajik Ministry of Justice. The draft programme provides for expansion of interaction between public management organs of the two countries to expand cooperation between Tajikistan and Moldova in such areas as the banking system, investing funds in the industrial sector, efficient use and development of transport infrastructure and development of humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, Asia-Plus reported. 
Besides, regulations on the Tajik-Moldavian intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation have been drafted and submitted for consideration to the government and ministries of justice, industry, and economy and trade. The economy and trade ministry source told Asia-Plus on July 15th that these documents would be signed during a session of the Tajik-Moldavian intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, which is scheduled to be held at the Moldavian capital, Chisinau, in November this year.

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FOREIGN LOANS & AID

China to finance socio-economic projects in Tajikistan

China will provide 50m yuans (about US$6m) to Tajikistan in the form of grants. An appropriate agreement "On Technical-Economic Cooperation" was signed in Beijing on July 20th by the Tajik government, represented by Hakim Soliyev, minister of economy and trade, and the Chinese government, represented by Chzhan Chzhigan, deputy minister of commerce, Asia-Plus has reported. 
It was recalled that a Tajik delegation had been on visit to China to attend a session of the Tajik-Chinese intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation.
The economy and trade ministry source said that the commission's session in Beijing had discussed issues related to the present state and further expansion of economic and trade cooperation between Tajikistan and China and had summed up the results of work having been carried out by the commission since its first session, which was held in 2001.
During the visit to China, the Tajik delegation held a number of meetings with senior representatives from some ministries and organisations to China to discuss cooperation between the two countries in agrarian sector, energy, tourism, etc.
Over the last 3 years, more than 10 Tajik-Chinese joint ventures have been launched in Tajikistan.
According to official statistics, trade turnover between Tajikistan and China over the first 6 months of the current year has amounted to more than US$30.184m, which is twice as much compared to the same period of the previous year. Tajikistan's exports to China amounted to little more than US$2.90m and imports amounted to more than US$28.93m.

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