Uzbekistan: Dictator Islam Karimov falsified economic data for years

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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Friday that Uzbekistan had for years published excessive growth and employment figures that had been falsified by the former leader Islam Karimov. He described the figures as „fiction“ and promised further reforms in the Turkic state.

The former Soviet republic has reported growth in gross domestic product of around eight to ten percent for the past decade, although foreign economists have often questioned the accuracy of the data.

Mirziyoyev told the parliament, according to a report by Reuters news agency, that the economic figures under Karimov’s rule were not real. Mirziyoyev was elected president last year after the death of dictator Karimov.

„Eight percent (GDP growth) was a fiction“, he said, adding that this year’s growth is expected to be 5.5 percent. „To be honest, I’ve ordered that even the 5.5-percent mark to be checked almost 10 times.“

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The employment figures were also greatly exaggerated. „In 2017 we created 336,000 new jobs and that is a real figure“, he said. „We used to report that we created almost one million jobs every year. No country in the world can do this!“

Mirziyoyev, who has been Prime Minister himself since 2003, blames former government economists for the misleading reports, without naming them.

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The president of the Central Asian Turkic state restructured the government during his first year in office. He carried out some reforms. This includes the liberalisation of the formerly draconian currency regulations, which had deterred foreign investors.

On Friday he vowed to continue the reforms. Uzbekistan will resume talks on accession to the World Trade Organisation next year. The resource-rich nation of 32 million people urgently needed to modernise its aging infrastructure.

„In 2017, we produced 56.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas“, he said. „But since the sector hasn’t been modernized for many years, we’ve had major losses, up to 20-23 percent, in production and shipping.“

The head of state promised that Uzbekistan will increase gas production to 66 billion cubic meters next year.

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