Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 294 - (28/06/05)
UN peace-keeping mission to continue
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has, with the agreement with the UN
Security Council, prolonged the activity of the UN peace-building office in
Tajikistan for another 12 months till June 1st, 2006. This is in view of
pressing needs in the post-civil war Central Asian country, Interfax News Agency
In a message to the UN Security Council chairman, Annan said that over the past
five years of peace-building the Tajik society has gone a long way in terms of
healing the wounds left by the civil war, but still much work is to be done to
promote national unity and consolidate peace. The UNTOP was established on June
1st, 2000 after the withdrawal of the UN observer mission from Tajikistan.
The civil war in Tajikistan, lying immediately to the west of China and north of
Afghanistan, lasted from 1992 to 1997. UNTOP had also assisted the country with
reforming national legislation to fit with its treaty obligations, strengthening
the rule of law through training the staff of the new ministry of the interior
in human rights standards, forensic techniques and modern law enforcement,
according to Annan.
Economy picks up; but so does inflation
Statistically, the Tajik economy is doing very well. But it is vital to realise
that this is from a very low base. Tajikistan remains the poorest country in the
FSU, excepting possibly right now Kyrgyzstan, which has experienced the
cathartic, but disruptive, ordeal of revolution.
Tajikistan's GDP expanded 7.1% year-on-year in January-April to 1.664bn somonis
in current prices (554m euro). Its state budget surplus was 45.8m somonis in the
first quarter of this year, Interfax News Agency reported recently, citing
figures released by the State Statistics Committee. Revenue grew 18.5%
year-on-year to 296.2m somonis and spending grew 29.3% to 250.4m somonis, the
But also, unfortunately, inflation is rising. It was at 1.9% in April, compared
with 0.6% in March. Food prices increased 3.8% and non-food prices grew 0.1%
while service charges declined to 1.5%. Inflation averaged 0.95% monthly in
January-April, compared with 0.3% in the same period of last year.
Tajikistan's trade deficit is also worsening, but only slightly. It grew 0.7%
year-on-year to 82m Euro in the first quarter of this year, the committee said.
Foreign trade fell 8% year-on-year to 656.9m Euro over the period. Exports
dropped 9.1% to 287.4m Euro and imports by 7% to 369.5m Euro.
Russia continues to be Tajikistan's main trading partner, accounting for 94.478m
Euro of trade turnover. Tajikistan exported products to Russia worth 24.76m Euro
and imported products from Russia worth 69.717m Euro.
Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan energy bridge opens
But another vital country for Tajikistan is its neighbour, Kyrgyzstan.
Acting President of Kyrgyzstan Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is widely expected to win
the coming elections and become the next full president, made his first trip
abroad to Dushanbe, a signal mark of the importance he attaches to good
relations with the Tajiks.
One of the most significant outcomes of his one-day visit was the official
launch of the Kyrgyz-Tajik energy "bridge." This will link both states
for mutual deliveries of electric energy, Interfax News Agency reported. At the
opening ceremony on May 18th in Kanibadam, Bakiyev said: "Implementation of
this line will elevate reliability of power supply to a great extent, optimise
the work of energy systems and carry on mutual deliveries of power and mutual
aid in critical emergencies."
Environmental issues do not respect man-made political divides. It is believed
that implementation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik energy "bridge, "Aigul-tash-Kanibadam,
will adjust the work of the Naryn-Syrdariya cascade of reservoirs to counter the
problem of lower water passage during winter period, that has led in the past to
under-floodings of southern oblasts of Kazakstan.
USTDA provides grant to Tajikistan
The United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has provided a grant
worth US$415,850 to Tajikistan's Ministry of Energy, Interfax News Agency
reported recently. This assistance will be earmarked for a feasibility study for
the restructuring of the Kairakum and Varzob hydroelectric power plants.
According to BISNIS, part of the US Department of Commerce, Washington DC, USTDA
said that "the grant marks the opening of USTDA'S assistance programme to
Tajikistan and is cited as an example of the agency's commitment to assist
Tajikistan in its efforts to expand its electricity production for further
promotion of economic development."
Meanwhile, Tajik Deputy Premier Asadullo Ghulomov announced the re-construction
of the Pamir-1 hydroelectric power plant in Gorno Badakhshan will be completed
on October 31st, 2005. The plant needs US$9.7m to be reconstructed. The
PamirEnergy energy company said the operation of the plant's two generating
units was suspended in May to allow the work to take place.
EBRD chief to Tajikistan for microfinance deals
Last, but not least, the micro-economy is being given vital assistance by
the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Its president, Jean
Lemierre, made a two-day trip to the Central Asian state on June 15th-16th,
during which he held talks with President Emomali Rakhmonov, the Prime Minister
and other government, diplomatic and business leaders. He also signed two
innovative microfinance deals and a trade finance agreement on behalf of the
Bank. After the signings in Dushanbe, Mr Lemierre hosted a press conference at
Kohi Vahdat conference centre.
Lemierre signed a US$2m credit line with Agroinvestbank, the fourth banking
partner in the EBRD's US$7m Tajik Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) Finance
Facility. Since its launch less than two years ago, the facility has financed
4,556 businesses, lending US$11.8m in total. The first three partners are
Eskhata Bank, Tajiksoridotbank and TajPromBank. With Agroinvestbank, the 7m Euro
facility will be fully placed.
In a second deal, Agroinvestbank also joined the EBRD's Trade Facilitation
Programme (TFP); the US$2m trade-related guarantee limit extended to it brings
the EBRD's cumulative limit opened to four Tajik banks to US$9.5m. The TFP was
initiated in 1999 to support trade to, from and within the Bank's 27 countries
of operations. The EBRD guarantees payment obligations of local issuing banks to
their international confirming counterparts in respect of trade-finance
This visit was also an opportunity to celebrate a new type of microfinance
lending introduced by the EBRD to Tajikistan, where 65 per cent of people earn
less than US$2.15 a day. In the wake of its successful micro-lending programme
through Tajikistan's banks, the Bank has also set up a US$10 million framework
for non-bank organisations in Early Transition Countries (ETC), its seven
poorest countries of operation. Non-bank organisations are active in more remote
and rural locations.
US$1m may seem modest by Western standards; but it goes a long way in
Tajikistan. A US$1m loan to Tajikistan's International Micro-Loan Fund "Imon"
- which is the new name for the Mercy Corps microlending programme operated by
the National Association of Business Women, Tajikistan, since 1999, making very
small loans without collateral - makes this the first organisation to benefit.
By working with a broader range of local financial institutions with a focus on
smaller borrowers, the EBRD has an opportunity to both expand and deepen its
outreach, Mr Lemierre said.
Tajikistan is one of seven Commonwealth of Independent States countries included
in the Bank's ETC Initiative since 2004. The Bank's goal with countries in this
programme is to stimulate market activity by using a streamlined approach to
financing more and smaller projects, mobilising more investment, and encouraging
economic reform. The Bank accepts higher risk while still respecting sound
Vital conference on banking
Lemierre also attended the first day of a two-day international banking
conference on the condition, problems and development prospects of the banking
system in Central Asia, which took place in the Tajik capital on June 16th-17th.
During the conference each Central Asian national delegation was able to outline
a topic for a separate session on reforming its credit organizations.
Limits on activities of foreign commercial banks will be lifted in Tajikistan,
President Rakhmonov said at the conference . He pointed to the growth of the
number of micro-credits to the population. According to Rakhmonov, over 125,000
Tajiks were granted these credits since 1994.
EU to provide humanitarian assistance for Tajikistan
The European Commission has approved a six million Euro humanitarian aid package
to continue meeting the forgotten needs of vulnerable communities throughout
Tajikistan, Irin-news reported.
The fund would be utilised in the three main areas' of health, drinking water
and sanitation and food, said the EU's executive body in a statement.
International agencies and NGOs operating in the country will implement projects
funded with this package.
These funds are being allocated through DG Humanitarian Aid- ECHO, a service of
the European Commission under the responsibility of Commissioner, Louis Michel.
ECHO has been providing aid for Tajikistan since 1992, in which time it has
allocated over 153m Euro.
Despite recent improvements in economic growth and stability over the past few
years, Tajikistan continues to have humanitarian needs that remain largely
forgotten by the international community. Tajikistan is the poorest of the
Central Asian republics, with 64% of the population living on less than US$2.15
Since 2002, chronic malnutrition in children is 30% throughout the country
without improvement, access to safe drinking water remains limited, access to
health services is deteriorating in some areas and health indicators are the
worst in the world. New threats such as malaria and HIV/AIDS are emerging.
The main target of the package is the elderly and children. Around 13,000 people
will receive food aid, over 15,000 children under five will receive
supplementary feeding, and a further 2,500 rural households will benefit from
cash for work projects. Two hundred thousand people will have access to safe
drinking water and sanitation facilities will be improved through the
rehabilitation or construction of over 200 water and sanitation systems, while
the whole population stands to benefit from improved access to primary health
Interventions will include awareness raising, education and training,
capacity-building of local communities, development of coordination mechanisms
and hand-over of some activities to the relevant authorities. Even though the
project will be operated throughout the country, the poorest region Khatlon will
be the main focus.
This decision marks the second stage of a three-year phasing out strategy for
ECHO, reflecting improvements in the general humanitarian situation and greater
engagement by other development actors and the government. ECHO's phasing out
strategy is coordinated with the activities of other commission instruments,
such as EuropeAid which are also providing essential assistance to help
alleviate poverty and contribute to Tajikistan's millennium development goals.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
US envoy discusses economy in Tajikistan
The United States believes that real economic reforms and democratic stability
will provide the conditions for economic security in Tajikistan and other
countries of the region, Richard Hoagland, the US ambassador to Tajikistan, said
in a speech to the Tajik Academy of Sciences in Dushnabe on May 12th, Interfax
News Agency reported.
Hoagland elucidated that democracy provides political stability which in turn is
a requirement for economic development. Hoagland is also cooperating with
Tajikistan's Ambassador to the United States Hamrahon Zaripov to promote US
investment in Tajikistan.
"When citizens believe that their government respects them, they cooperate
with it. They feel empowered," he added. Once the citizens feel empowered
then they automatically become economically productive. Hoagland congratulated
the Tajik government for taking important steps to reform its legal code and the
banking and financial sectors. These measures will help to create conditions
that attract foreign investment but added that the reforms must be implemented.
There must also be "everyday good governance and international standards of
transparency in data recording and reporting, open fiscal and monetary policy
and practice, and honest and open-to-the-public corporate records. Any thing
less than this will scare off foreign investors," he said.
In addition, he stressed the importance of competition in a market economy,
saying competition "increases choice, efficiency, and ultimately, profit.
Without competition, an economy cannot grow, and people's lives will not
The United States has been helping countries in the region develop the elements
of democracy, such as fair and transparent elections and an independent media in
order to build strong stable, and prosperous countries.
Hoagland also discussed a wide range of issues including agricultural reforms,
energy and business initiatives, tourism and regional trade. He stated that the
ancient Silk Road helped sustain and enrich great civilisation in the past, and
Tajikistan can once again be in the centre of a prosperous flow of goods from
China to South Asia and Europe and the rest of the world.