Books on Kyrgyzstan
A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic
traditions, Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864; it achieved
independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Current concerns include:
privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of democracy and
political freedoms, inter-ethnic relations, and terrorism.
Update No: 282 - (30/06/04)
Kumtor recovers; so does Kyrgyzstan
The Kyrgyz economy is doing rather better than in 2002 when it suffered a severe downturn due manly to disruption at its key gold company, Kumtor. Last year GDP rose by 6.7%, which it also did year-on-year in Jan-April of this year. Kumtor, although not one of the world's largest gold operations, dominates the Kyrgyz economy. It recovered last year.
If one leaves out Kumtor, then GDP is rising by about 5-6% per year, as is industrial production. With Kumtor included, industrial production is rising by over 11%. That shows quite how important the gold industry is to Kyrgyzstan.
But naturally it doesn't employ many people or have 'knock-on effects.' Almost unbelievably, the Central Asian state's jv with the Canadian company, Cameco, employs just 1,650 people, but contributes 10-14% of GDP. So important is it, that the report of its GDP is always made both with and without Kumtor's output. "There can be few countries in the world that report their GDP with or without a single company," says Kumtor President Andrew Lewis.
Akayev's reforms persist
Lewis is of course a Canadian. To paraphrase him, there can be few countries in the world where the leading company by far is run by a foreigner. This is due to a remarkable man, the president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev. He is despotic, like all the Central Asian leaders, but is, one might say, not so much the most enlightened of them, as the least unenlightened.
Margaret Thatcher spotted him early on, although she had already left power, as someone with whom the West "could do business." This proved a providential endorsement and the world's financial community bent over backwards to lend Kyrgyzstan money.
This has been a mixed blessing. But the banks are rolling over the debt and debt repayments of course. As Keynes said: "If you owe your bank £10,000, you have a problem; if you owe it £10m, the bank has a problem."
The World Bank in town
The World Bank has approved a US $6.9 million grant to Kyrgyzstan in support of a disaster hazard mitigation project. The project aims at minimising the exposure of humans and livestock to nuclear waste associated with abandoned uranium waste dumps in the southern Mailuu-Suu area and improve response by national and regional authorities and local communities to disasters.
Uranium waste dumps in the area are vulnerable to landslides and floods, posing a potential threat to the densely populated Ferghana Valley, shared by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and a home to some 10 million people. Kyrgyzstan joined the World Bank in 1992. Since then, the Bank's commitments to the country have exceeded $649 million.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Kyrgyzstan pursues economic investments in Afghanistan
A regional conference aimed at tapping new economic opportunities afforded by Afghanistan and regional cooperation was held in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, recently. "Afghanistan's further security, stability and economic progress very much depends on the regional cooperation with Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan. That's the major concept of doing this in Kyrgyzstan rather than anywhere else," Ercan Murat, country director of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Afghanistan, said recently, IRIN News Agency reported.
In the first two days of the conference practical issues such as encouraging trade and transport, and improvement in the region's transit infrastructure were discussed, while the final day was devoted to a gathering of cabinet ministers from the region.
The conference, opened and hosted by Kyrgyz president Askar Akaev, was also attended by Afghanistan's Minister of Finance, Ashraf Ghani, and UNDP Aministrator, Mark Malloch Brown.
UNDP resident representative in Kyrgyzstan, Jerzy Skuratowicz, said: "This is the first conference of this type, which basically tries to assist Afghanistan in opening its links for cooperation in trade and infrastructure with Central Asian countries."
The conference for Afghanistan's Regional Economic Cooperation: Central Asia, Iran and Pakistan, supported by UNDP in Bishkek and Kabul, brought together government officials and top business leaders from Afghanistan, five Central Asian states, Iran and Pakistan at a three-day event, to bolster trade, transit and investment in and with Afghanistan, a UNDP statement said.
The significance of the conference was to reintroduce the new Afghanistan into Central Asia after decades of separation, Murat explained. "This is the beginning of a long series of efforts that will eventually re-establish the partnership which Afghanistan always had in this part of the world," the UNDP official added.
"We expect that the conference will start the beginning of the dialogue between all the countries and parties," Skuratwicz noted.
Bishkek holds new Kyrgyztelecom tender phase
Kyrgyzstan has announced a new phase of the tender to sell a 51% stake in national telecoms operator, Kyrgyztelecom, Tatiana Nagavitsina, a spokeswoman for the State Property Committee, said recently, Interfax News Agency reported.
Since the term for the previous bids has already expired the tender committee has asked participants to enter new bids, according to the spokesperson. Proposals were sent to all previous participants, with the exception of Swedtel. The bids entered were: 16.2m Euro from Arextech Limited/Detecon International GmbH (initially it offered 10.5m Euro), 15.05m Euro from Rostleecom (15.287m Euro), 15m Euro from Kazkommerts (9m Euro), 15m Euro from Global Communication Network (12.5m Euro) and 5.35m Euro from Kazakhtelecom (5.25m Euro).
Arextech Limited/Detecon International GmbH made the highest offer and the tender commission will evaluate the development and tariff plans it offers. If proposals meet the requirements, the commission will begin talks with Arextech Limited/Detecon International on the sale of the 51% stake, and if an agreement is reached, the company will be named the winner of the tender.
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