As the world is celebrating the advent of the new year, people hope that 2021 will be better than the last year and that the wounds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would be healed this year. In this regard, leaders carry heavy responsibilities since they are capable of steering the efforts towards complete and quick recovery. On this occasion, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev addressed the Oliy Majlis (Uzbek Parliament) and the people of Uzbekistan and the following text includes highlights of the speech.
A Tough Year
We are well aware that today, humanity is experiencing a deep crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is likely the biggest global disaster in a century.
According to the latest data, more than 81 million people in 191 countries fell ill with coronavirus infection, while 1 million 765 thousand of them died.
The pandemic is damaging the global economy in the amount of, please note, about $ 400 billion a month. To date, 500 million jobs have been lost worldwide.
Unfortunately, this calamity brought about quite unexpected and tricky problems to the entire humanity, including our nation. Moreover, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes in Bukhara and Sardoba came to be other trials for our country to endure.
Thanks to the unyielding will, selfless work and steadfastness of our people, we have courageously overcome all these trials with the joint effort of the wider public and government bodies.
This year, in accordance with the State Programme “Year of Science, Education and Digital Economy”, we continued reforms across spheres with resolution, designed to build a new Uzbekistan.
In 2020, the parameters of admission to higher education institutions have increased 2.5 times compared to 2016, and the level of coverage of our youth with higher education has increased from 9 to 25 percent.
For the first time, about a thousand girls from low-income families were admitted to higher educational institutions on the basis of special state scholarships.
Another issue that will be in the center of our attention is improving the qualifications of teachers, stimulating their hard work.
Estimates of the International Monetary Fund and international rating agencies suggest, Uzbekistan has managed to maintain positive rates of economic growth this year, despite the trials and among the few countries in the world.
“More than 500 modern companies kick started in IT parks established in Tashkent, Andijan, Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Samarkand, Syrdarya and Ferghana regions.”
In close cooperation with the European Union, important steps were taken to introduce the system of extended trade preferences, GSP+, in our country. This scheme will make it possible in the future to export more than 6 thousand titles of domestic products to the European market duty-free. In the textile industry alone, this will make it possible to increase the sales of goods abroad by almost $ 300 million a year.
In 2020, access to international financial markets expanded; for the first time, government eurobonds in national currency worth 2 trillion soums were placed at low interest rates.
This year, 197 large enterprises, thousands of small and medium ones and infrastructure facilities have been built in the country. In particular, a complex for the production of ammonia and urea and a plant for nitric acid in Navoiazot JSC were commissioned, so were the installations for the production of liquefied gas at the Mubarek, Gazli and Shurtan oil production enterprises, as well as the Tashkent Metallurgy Plant.
In the energy sector, the construction of six new power stations has begun on the basis of public-private partnerships with foreign investors. Their total cost is $ 2 billion, the total capacity is 2,700 megawatts.
For the first time in history, Uzbekistan was elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. The recent removal of our country from the list of nations of special watch in the field of religious freedom by the US State Department is also a recognition of our ongoing wide-ranging democratic reforms.
Our global and regional initiatives, launched from the high rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly, were met with great interest and supported by the world community.
As you know, our national independence will turn 30 in the coming year 2021. Surely, together with you, with all our people, we will widely celebrate this historic date on the basis of the noble idea “We should live in a new Uzbekistan – a free and prosperous country!”
Today, while defining our plans and programmes for the coming year, we will certainly pay special attention to the development of the most important and priority areas, to the consolidation of our achievements over the years of independence.
It should be noted that the pandemic has once again shown that radical reform of the primary healthcare system, the ambulance service, and the sanitary-epidemiological structure is a vital necessity for us.
Our highest priority should be to empower youth to set and achieve ambitious goals. Only then will our children become a real force that can fulfill the age-old dreams of our people.
To this end, we will carry out large-scale reforms, guided by the idea “New Uzbekistan starts from the doorstep of the school, from the system of education and enlightenment”.
First, we organise high-quality upbringing and education of the younger generation in kindergartens, schools and universities, we mobilise all capacities and opportunities so that the younger generation grows physically healthy and spiritually mature, dedicated to its native land and people.
“In order to radically perk up the quality of education, first of all, it is necessary to bring curricula, teaching aids in line with advanced international standards.”
Second, on the basis of modern knowledge and experience, national and universal values, we will foster young people with independent thinking and the best human qualities.
Third, we will pay special attention to training our boys and girls in modern professions in demand, developing their industriousness and entrepreneurial skills, as well as implementing their initiatives, providing jobs and housing.
In a word, an integral and continuous system will be created, whereby from the moment of birth until reaching 30 years of age, a person will be provided with comprehensive support and assistance so that they can take a well-deserved place in life.
In 2021, special attention will be paid to healthcare as another important area and to the priorities in this area.
First. The systemic continuation of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will remain among our most vital tasks in the coming year.
For this work, a reserve of 3 trillion soums has been formed in the state budget for 2021. These funds will also be used to vaccinate the population against coronavirus infection.
$ 200 million will be assigned to improve the quality of work and advance the material and technical base of the sanitary and epidemiological service, the creation of modern laboratories.
Taking into account the lessons learned during the pandemic, the scale of digitalisation of the medical sector will be expanded. In particular, measures are envisaged to expand the range of remote services provided by medical institutions, to introduce electronic office work in polyclinics and hospitals. Communication based on telemedicine technologies will be established between the national specialised centers and their local branches, and opportunities for diagnostics and treatment in the regions will be increased.
“For an even wider coverage of the population with primary healthcare institutions, in the next 3 years, 315 points of family doctors and 85 family polyclinics will be opened.”
Second. Caring for the health of mothers and children is caring about the whole society, about our future.
Starting next year, children under 15 and pregnant women will receive 7 types of vitamins and medicines for parasitic diseases free of charge. These measures will cover 11 million people in 2021 and 17 million in 2022, it is planned to allocate 100 billion soums for these purposes.
By providing women and children with free iodine, iron, folic acid, vitamins and anti-parasitic drugs, we hope to reduce the incidence of anemia by 25 percent.
Third. To raise healthcare to a qualitatively new level, it is necessary to strengthen the primary healthcare system, especially in villages and mahallas.
In this regard, instead of general practitioners in primary care institutions, the activities of medical teams will be organised, consisting of a family doctor and 5 assistants from among the nursing staff.
Each mahalla will have a separate system of work with children under 5, women of fertile age and pregnant women, people with disabilities, as well as those at risk of cardiovascular, oncological, endocrine diseases.
The next wave of the pandemic and the risks that are currently being observed in other parts of the world require that all of us be even more vigilant and attentive.
Therefore, using the available opportunities and potential, the experience gained during the pandemic, as well as advanced foreign achievements, we need to raise the cardinal reforms in the field of protecting and strengthening the health of the population to a new level. At the same time, one of our most critical priorities should be the widespread adoption of healthy lifestyle, especially among young people.
Today, with kind intentions, we are setting ourselves very important objectives for 2021.To be sure, they will not be easy to fulfill. Unfortunately, in various walks of our life, there are still many problems and shortcomings.
It is no secret that due to the lack of proper organisation of work on the ground, some executives lack competence and qualifications, there is bureaucracy, corruption, indifference and negligence.
We are well aware of these problems. And in order to overcome the obstacles that hinder our development, we will steadily continue the reforms we have begun.The power and will of our people, which in the current difficult conditions overcomes all trials and tribulations, are becoming even stronger. Every citizen realises even deeper that their life and destiny are inextricably linked with the destiny and future of the Motherland.