Monochrome by Centil Law: Keep trying

While the tally is still running from the weeks and months of lockdown, attempts are being made to focus on the positive, keep emotion at bay and take decisive actions.

Attempting to recover from the effect of COVID-19 on Kazakhstan’s economy, and to mark the end of the state of emergency, President Tokayev announced plans to reform the energy sector by increasing the share of renewables, expand infrastructure projects, and to introduce relevant legislation ensuring stability for strategic investors in priority sectors. In addition, $1.4bn was injected into the banking sector to boost the economy.

In addition, President Tokayev shared plans to increase the share of local production from 40% to 60-70%. For this, farmers will receive social allocations during the spring sowing campaign, the loan portfolio of KazAgro will be restructured, and preferential micro-crediting annual rate will remain at 6% with the help of the Damu Fund. Social reforms will include creating conditions for more affordable housing and employment.

In Uzbekistan, President Mirziyoyev signed a decree to reform the banking sector by 2025, including the privatisation of Ipoteka Bank, Uzpromstroybank, Asaka Bank, Alokabank, Qishloq Qurilish Bank and Turonbank. The initiative should mark an increase in the asset share of non-state banks from 15% to 60% and of non-bank credit organisations from 0.35% to 4% over five years.

Dutch Venus Airport Investment sold 75% of its shares of the Almaty International Airport to the Turkish-French TAV Airports for $415m, becoming the group’s 15th airport globally. The new shareholder is already planning the construction of a new international terminal for $200m by 2022. To date, TAV’s portfolio includes duty-free shops, hotels, cafés, restaurants, and passenger lounges.

The International Monetary Fund approved an additional $121.1m for emergency assistance to Kyrgyzstan, following the country’s request to double the earlier $120.9m loan issued under the Rapid Financing Instrument and Rapid Credit Facility programs. At this time, the IMF’s total loan issued to support the country’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic adds up to $242m.

While Kyrgyzstan awaits for President Xi’s response to its debt relief request, the global economic blow of COVID-19 drained state budgets of many of China’s borrowers, trying to pressure it to consider writing off some of the loans, incurred notably for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is widely known that usually, where borrowers struggled to repay China in the past, it took national assets instead. 

Unable to avoid the economic consequences of the pandemic, China’s cuts in gas imports and low oil prices, Turkmenistan is not trying to restructure the disbursement of the state budget. In his address, President Berdymukhamedov ordered to introduce cuts in public spending and spending by state companies, while committing to maintain social allocations and support for businesses.

In an attempt to support Kazakhstan’s economic recovery from the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank issued $1bn in loans to finance two projects of $500m, one for the development of cattle breeding, the other to spur the digital economy and artificial intelligence. 

Uzbekistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry launched a new project for the development of “Resource Efficiency in the Agri-Food Industry” under the aegis of the European Commission’s SWITCH Asia program. It is expected that the EC will contribute to 80% of the €3m budget in grants. The main focus will be on the support and training of small and medium-sized enterprises.

More assets belonging to Gulnara Karimova find their way from France to Uzbekistan this week. While the eldest daughter of the first president of Uzbekistan is serving her additional 13 year sentence in jail for extortion and embezzlement, the country’s authorities are trying to repatriate the remainder of her $1.3bn in assets believed to be held abroad, including in Switzerland, USA and Russia. 

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