"Uzbekistan International Poverty Reduction Forum" was held in Bukhara
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Poverty reduction, improving the standard of living and well-being of people as one of the priorities of the policy of each state, have been reflected in numerous speeches of heads of state, as well as in the agenda of international organizations.
In particular, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in his address at the 75th and 76th sessions of the UN General Assembly, stressed the need to unite global efforts, especially in the fight against poverty during and after the pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, the President identified poverty reduction as a key task of state policy.
In order to effectively fulfill the tasks set before us, namely, reducing poverty, and improving the quality of life, as well as to discuss with the world and regional experts the work done in our country and plans for the future to achieve the Sustainable development Goals, to further strengthen cooperation with international experts on May 26-27, the "Uzbekistan International Poverty Reduction Forum" was held in Bukhara for the first time Uzbekistan”.
In recent years, the issue of poverty reduction in our country has become one of the most important issues of state policy, as well as the work carried out in this direction, and the results achieved in a short period of time arouse interest in the Forum among many international organizations and experts.
The coronavirus pandemic has served as a great experience and lesson, as well as an opportunity to draw conclusions in further areas of anti-poverty policy. The world has once again witnessed the importance of investments in human capital, education and healthcare systems, as well as the availability of financial and economic reserves to withstand such unforeseen processes.
In particular, the existing macroeconomic reserves have largely helped Uzbekistan attract the necessary resources in the short term and form a Fund to combat the crisis. This allowed our country to work in three main areas.
1. Strengthening of the healthcare system (construction of new hospitals, increase in the number of beds, purchase of new medical equipment, medicines and vaccines, stimulation of medical personnel, etc.).
2. Improving the social protection system (including expanding coverage of families in need of social protection, as well as the population affected by the pandemic and providing them with state assistance).
3. Provision of tax benefits and vacations, deferral of loan payments, as well as support for enterprises in the real sector of the economy through other types of financial intermediation.
In particular, in order to expand the scale and effectively organize support for the socially vulnerable segment of the population, the “Iron Notebook” system has been formed.
Over the past period, 651.0 thousand families were included in the "Iron Notebook", 705.2 thousand able-bodied unemployed out of more than 2.7 million members of these families were provided with work, thereby 601.3 thousand families were discharged from the "Iron Notebook". Measures have been taken to create a permanent source of income for the families included in the notebook. In particular, 96.6 thousand people were employed on a permanent basis, and 34.7 thousand engaged in entrepreneurial activity. Also, 16.5 thousand citizens have been trained in the profession.
Measures are being taken to support families in need of social assistance, who have lost a breadwinner and have a disability.
20.0 thousand low-income families who have lost a breadwinner, 38.0 thousand families with disabilities in need of social assistance have been registered. As a result, 1.8 thousand houses (75.0%) were repaired, out of 2.4 thousand families with citizens of a certain disability group in need of housing repairs.
In addition, the families included in the notebook receive regular medical, psychological, and legal services. In particular, 13.6 thousand members of low-income families (93.8%) out of 14.5 thousand underwent medical examinations.
To date, 293.2 million soums have been transferred to the Iron Notebook at the expense of the Sakhovat va Kumak support Fund.
To date, 293.2 thousand families included in the "Iron Notebook" program have been allocated 279.7 billion soums from the funds of the Sakhovat va Kymak Fund.
In parallel, work was carried out to create and strengthen the basic institutional foundations for the implementation of the new poverty reduction program. In particular, in 2020-2021, the number of families receiving benefits from the state budget increased by more than 2 times, their share reached almost 15 percent.
A new criterion for determining the level of poverty has been introduced - minimum consumer spending. This made it possible to revise the minimum level of social benefits and allowances. For example, in 2021, the size of minimum pensions and benefits for the disabled, as well as families who have lost a breadwinner, increased by 10-50%.
In addition, effective cooperation with a number of countries and international organizations has played an important role in the process of taking the necessary measures and decisions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
Uzbekistan has begun the active implementation of the "New Uzbekistan" development strategy for 2022-2026, which is based primarily on the principles of "For Human honor and dignity". The main tasks for the development of the economy are based on the goal of reducing the poverty level by half by 2026. At the same time, the main condition for achieving the set goals is to ensure macroeconomic stability and sustainable economic development.
In particular, it aims to increase GDP per capita from the current $2,000 to $2,800 in 2026. This will pave the way for joining the first group of middle-income countries in 2030. Within the framework of the tasks set, it is necessary to continue the ongoing economic reforms, such as the transformation and privatization of state-owned enterprises and banks, the development of agriculture, the transition to a green model of economic growth, improving conditions for entrepreneurship, increasing private and foreign direct investment, land relations reforms.
One of the new directions of improving the economic management system to continue reforms in the country is the introduction of the institute of khokim assistants, who are attached to each mahalla.
The main goal of this initiative, put forward by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, is financial assistance to the implementation of entrepreneurial initiatives of the population, further improvement of mechanisms for providing employment with income-generating labor and poverty reduction.
The new strategy pays special attention to the development of human capital. In particular, in recent years, the coverage of preschool and higher education in Uzbekistan has almost doubled. In this area, the coverage of preschool education is planned to increase to 80% (currently 69%) by 2026, and higher education - to 50% (28%).
According to the development strategy, vocational training of 1 million unemployed people (especially women and youth) is planned for the period up to 2026.
Sustainable economic growth is one of the foundations of poverty reduction. Today, Uzbekistan believes that the only way to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of the population is to ensure high, stable, and inclusive economic growth.
It should be noted that in 2015 Uzbekistan started implementing the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030, developed at the initiative of the United Nations. Achieving these goals will undoubtedly serve as the main instrument of economic growth, which, in turn, will lead to a gradual reduction in the level of poverty in the country. In general, most of the reforms carried out in our country in recent years have mainly served to achieve the SDGs.
The "Uzbekistan International Poverty Reduction Forum", which was held in our country on the above-mentioned topical issues, in particular, in the field, which is organized to discuss plans for the future and exchange views, was attended by about 250 participants, including more than 100 representatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), observers and partners of countries, international development institutions, academic circles.
In particular, the forum was attended by the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Usha Rao-Monari, World Bank Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Lalita Moorty, Turkish politician, former Minister of Finance and Treasury of Turkey Lutfi Elvan, Professor of Business Practice at George Washington University Danny Leipziger, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Zhang Min, Director of the Oxford Initiative to Combat Poverty and Human Development Sabina Alkire, Director of the China International Center for Poverty Reduction Liu Junwen.
The event was also attended by representatives of international organizations and financial institutions, such as the United Nations, the Islamic Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, UNICEF, the French Development Agency, the Asian Development Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Global Institute for Green Growth.
At the same time, the forum organized a motivational panel session with the participation of local entrepreneurs, in particular, young people who have achieved success in the field of entrepreneurship. At this event, an example and a study of best practices were presented, the importance of faith in the future, enthusiasm, positive thinking, and optimistic behavior.
In the 10 panel sessions scheduled for the forum, in particular, the session "Adoption of the best international experience for Uzbekistan’s poverty reduction strategy", participants exchanged views on generalized data on poverty reduction, specific aspects of strategic planning, setting goals, the balance between growth and social development, linking local resources with goals, the interaction between the public and other stakeholders, the adoption of strategies, in particular, the implementation of the most effective international strategies.
The panel session "Green and sustainable development: challenges and opportunities for poverty reduction agenda" discussed the relationship between poverty and the environment, mitigation of global climate change and network security systems, eco-friendly and sustainable growth and job creation, and the impact of energy supply on poverty.
The session on "Linking regional development to poverty reduction" discussed the balance between urbanization and regional development, strategies for geographical orientation, territorial cohesion and reducing inequality, balanced territorial development, development strategies in undeveloped regions, encouraging local communities to contribute to government initiatives.
During the session "Revisiting Uzbekistan’s recent progress: What can be improved from lessons learned", experts shared their views on the effectiveness of state programs in the field of social security, employment, entrepreneurship, professional development, reforms in agriculture, education, and health, sanitation and hygiene, green development, gender equality, successful experiments, and cooperation.
At the meeting on the topic "Pooling efforts and developing collaborative approaches toward poverty reduction in the SCO area", methods of measuring poverty, new approaches and mechanisms, applied social security programs, household surveys, measures for targeted poverty reduction, exchange of experience, best practices, etc. were discussed.
In the part "Human capital accumulation and inclusive growth, how to better design skills programs including IT", an exchange of views took place on poverty reduction, profiling policy, assistance to the population in need of social protection, "social elevator", equal opportunities for all, health insurance system, quality of education, training centers, employment potential in the IT sector.
The panel session "Employment, private and SME and investment climate" discussed the creation of suitable jobs, employment programs for women and youth, labor market flexibility, migration policy, privatization and social policy, and the development of a business environment for the development of entrepreneurship.
Within the framework of the round table on the topic "Ensuring food security and sustainable jobs through agricultural transformation", the issues of changing food prices, measures to mitigate future negative consequences, land reform, the creation of agricultural aggregators, ensuring food security were discussed.
During the session on the topic "How to better design social protection programs, balancing between incentives", the participants exchanged views on the effectiveness of social protection programs, social insurance, social services and employment programs, methods of targeted identification of poverty, the full formation of social protection systems.
Round tables were also organized on the issues of employment of persons with disabilities with opportunities and foreign experience (opportunities for people with disabilities, creation, and adaptation of jobs and foreign experience in conditions created for people with disabilities), economic empowerment of rural women (opportunities for women and youth in rural areas: the creation of digital skills, startups, entrepreneurship, green jobs, organization of practical classes in psychology and management for women entrepreneurs) and multidimensional poverty (international experience, development of poverty reduction policy, problems and opportunities related to multidimensional poverty calculation in Uzbekistan).
In addition, a number of cooperation documents were signed and new joint projects announced, including the signing ceremony of the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Program for 2022-2023 between the Ministry of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction and the China International Poverty Reduction Center, as well as an event on Uzbekistan’s accession to the Global Commitment to Reduce Methane Emissions.
Also, within the framework of this forum, on May 27 in the afternoon, the forum participants are scheduled to visit the centers for the development of entrepreneurship and human capital (field trip) and a cultural event.