Monochrome: A lot of planning activity

Date: Aug 2018

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Uzbekistan advised the government to raise utility prices, lest service providers end up at a loss from all the purchasing they’ve been doing. The rise might come at a cost, and authorities are advised to soften the blow for vulnerable groups. Perhaps it’s about time for public utilities to become private. Meanwhile, the public sector is going to have its wage system overhauled.

President Mirziyoyev and EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti discussed projects totalling over one billion US dollars. The bank has set its sights on revamping the agriculture and power industries and other public sectors. It may also chip in on a upcoming project by GP Günter Papenburg to build toll roads. Although its strategy for Uzbekistan has yet to take shape, EBRD hopes to finalise it in a couple of months. 

Anadolu Group is mapping out a series of projects in various industries in Uzbekistan. Although it has no projects to put on the table as yet, the plans are in place. It seems Turkish companies are in for a lucky streak. Yildirim Group has serious plans for green energy development and the modernisation of Tashkent airport, all the while considering investing 1.2 billion US dollars in building coal and gas power plants. 

Great news for space exploration! Kazakhstan and Russia are teaming up to build a super-heavy booster that will be able to carry them to Mars and the Moon. RSC Energia will soon break ground on a tailor-made space complex in Baikonur Cosmodrome. The booster’s first launch is planned for 2028. The space enterprise is also considering building a small-lift launch vehicle and spare parts for launch vehicles. 

The Bank of Astana has it rough: no licence to take deposits or open accounts, ratings plummeting to near-default depths, and various branches closing until further notice. Although the state has been the largest investor in the Bank of Astana, the National Bank refused to support it further on. The bank is planning to find investors or tap into funds on the side. This will be hard to achieve.

Presidents Trump and Rouhani keep foreign journalists at work. With the latest Twitter war still seething, Iran refused to hold a summit with the US President unless Uncle Sam agreed to honour the nuclear deal. Given his determined opposition to the deal, Trump will hardly move to make it happen – though it doesn’t mean the US won’t be pushing Iran to the negotiating table. 

Mobile operator MTS sued Turkmenistan in the World Bank’s special court for damages, when its Turkmen subsidiary was forced to suspend its services in Turkmenistan. As a foreign investor, MTS claims violation of its rights. Although the numbers are still being crunched, the company is estimated to have lost 750 million US dollars, for which it now wants compensation. 

Ahead of President Putin’s visit to Ashgabat, Gazprom is intending to resume gas offtake this autumn. The decision is mainly political; Russia wants to beef up its hold over Central Asia’s energy sector, while Turkmenistan is facing its worst economic crisis given China’s sway over gas exports. We think the Turkmen government would do well to consider building gas-chemical complexes and launch exports through Iran and the Caspian. This might be problematic, yes, but who said strategic planning was easy? 

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