Monochrome by Centil Law: Don't rock my boat

Ridding themselves of bad seeds, the Stans seem to see light at the end of the tunnel and try to find balance on the waves.

Kazakhstan is hopeful as the COVID-19 rates show improvement, seeing a 34% hospital bed occupancy and the daily increase remaining below 1.2%. In view of this, PM Mamin suggested that the country has overcome its peak, which sounds a bit soon given that on 30 July, mask wearing became compulsory even on the streets. Looking forward for lockdown to be lifted on 17 August.

Confident to have curbed the coronavirus spread, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan choose to focus on the upcoming elections. President Rahmon approved 11 October as the official election date, exactly a week after the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections. Probabilities are high that Tajikistan will see a transition of power from father to son, Rustam Emomali, who was appointed head of Senate back in April.

Hopeful to also restart tourism activity in the country, Kyrgyzstan joined the Adventure Travel Trade Association, along with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The US Agency for International Development is assisting the ATTA in now training and sharing knowledge on new health and safety practices to adopt in post-COVID-19 tourism in Central Asia, with additional focus on sustainability.

Uzbekistan received additional €2m in aid from Germany to finance the country’s fight against COVID-19. Last month, Germany’s Development Bank KfW extended a €19,6m grant to Tajikistan. Yet, it appears that the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) intends to reduce its assistance programme in Central Asia, narrowing its geographic scope to Uzbekistan only..

The Kazakh government bailed out ATF Bank, the country’s fifth-largest lender, which like many banks, reeling from a volume of bad debts that resulted from the COVID-19 prevention measures. In addition, ATF received $60bn in cash deposits from Samruk­-Kazyna. Good rep for the bank’s owner Galimzhan Yessenov, and his friends in high places.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development agreed to extend $46,2m in long term loans and $800,000 in grants to Uzbek farmers to support the project to diversify and modernise the sector in Andijan, Namangan and Fergana regions. To promote the creation of farmer clusters and agricultural cooperatives, loans are conditional on membership in these groups.

This never happened, and here we go again – Kazakhstan considers taxing crypto mining at a 15% flat-rate and charging miners under new electricity tariff rules to support the financing of the country’s post-pandemic economy. This is radically opposite to Kazakhstan’s initial stance on no-taxation of mining, which allowed for mining farms to generate up to 6% of the world’s Bitcoin hash rate.

Shortly after launching tenders to build new HPPs, Uzbekistan completed the modernisation of the HPP-3 hydropower plant in Kashkadarya region, overseen by the Chinese Dongfang Electric International Corporation. Officials say that the project, which began in 2017, cost $27.6m, including a $9.8m loan from China’s Eximbank, and increased the plant’s capacity from 13.23MW to 15.34 MW.

Kazakhstan’s KAZ Minerals eyes a new joint project with the Russian government, the construction of a new port and an LNG power plant for the Baimskaya copper mine in the Chukotka region of north east Russia. In 2018, the Kazakh group purchased this copper mine from Abramovich and his partners. Now, the port and plant would be linked by a 400 km road to facilitate the LNG shipments. 

The United States updated the sanction list against Iran by adding 22 specific metals, including graphite, over 98% pure aluminium powder, raw and semi-finished materials used in the country's military or ballistic missile programs. In response, Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands firm in his position that these attempts are futile, as the economy and society scrambles for air under COVID-19.

Uzbekistan's Samarkand airport to be modernised by Turkish Kiklop for $62m. Local Primetime Group and Enter Engineering will work with the Turkish company to realise the project. The initiative aims to bring the airport to compliance with international standards for air travel, enabling the airport to receive up to 1.4m passengers annually.

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