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Draft law on competition discussed

 March 16, 2011

The Legislative Chamber Committee for budget and economic reforms jointly with the State committee for demonopolization and competition development held a seminar on the priority directions and legislative bases of the competitive policies.

Deputies, officials from ministries and departments, as well as representatives of the monopoly enterprises discussed the issues of improvement of the legislation and development of competition on the commodity markets, as well as the draft law “On competition”.

The proposal to develop this new law was made by President Islam Karimov in his 12 November speech on the Concept of further deepening of democratic reforms and formation of the civil society in the country.

The adoption of the law on competition will lead to improvement of legal regulation of relations and prevention of monopolistic activities on the commodities markets.

The law will replace the old law on competition and limitation of monopolistic activities, which does not correspond to the present level of development of the economy of Uzbekistan.

According to seminar participants, the level of monopolization has significantly decreased over the past years on the commodities and services markets, thanks to effective competitive policy implemented by the state.

The number of monopoly enterprises has been reduced by 75% during the last 10 years.

Between 2004 and 2009, the share of monopolistic products in the total GDP of Uzbekistan decreased from 26% to 20.8%.

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 Deputies adopt law to amend Constitution

March 05, 2011

The Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan held a session to consider the draft law on amendments and additions to certain articles of the Constitution.

The changes were prepared in accordance with the legislative initiatives outlined in the speech of President Islam Karimov “The concept of deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country” at the joint session of both chambers of the parliament on 12 November 2010.

The document is aimed at further democratization of the state power and management, ensuring a more balanced distribution of powers among the three subjects of state authority: President as head of the state, legislative and executive branches, as well as strengthening the role and influence of political parties in the implementation of socio-economic and socio-political reforms, renewal and modernization of the country.

Prior to the consideration at the plenary session, the draft law was extensively discussed at meetings of political party fractions and deputy groups from the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, as well as in the committees of the Legislative Chamber.

During these discussions, the deputies fully supported the legislative initiatives of the head of the state, underlining the timeliness and importance of amendments to the Constitution.

During the discussion of the document, the members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan stressed that the draft law introduces amendments in the article 98 of the Constitution, according to which a new constitutional order is introduced when the nomination of the Prime Minister is proposed by a political party, which received the highest number of parliamentary seats at the elections to the Legislative Chamber, or by several parties that have the highest equal number of seats in the parliament.

This legislative initiative is the head of state defines the start of a new stage of democratic development of the country, and development of civil society, and has a historical significance for Uzbekistan. The MPs noted that inclusion in the Basic Law of the new order of forming the government significantly increases the responsibility of political parties, their role and importance in the society.

The members of the fraction of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan highlighted the importance of amendments to the Constitution, according to which the Oliy Majlis receives the right to express a no confidence vote to the Prime Minister. The draft law clearly regulates the mechanism for the implementation of this right.

Thus, article 98 stipulates that in case of sustained controversies between the Prime Minister and the Legislative Chamber on the proposal formally submitted to the President by at least a third of the Legislative Chamber deputies, the issue of expression of no confidence to the Prime Minister is submitted for consideration at the joint meeting of the two chambers of the parliement.

The vote of no confidence to the Prime Minister is considered approved if it receives the votes of at least two-thirds of the total deputies of the Legislative Chamber and members of the Senate. In this case, the President makes the decision to relieve the Prime Minister of the duties. The entire Cabinet of Ministers resigns together with the Prime Minister.

This new rule significantly increases the role of fractions of political parties and the parliament in addressing critical national issues, and expands the powers of the Oliy Majlis in the system of state authority, the deputies said.

Speakers from the Milly Tiklanish Democratic Party drew the attention to the changes and additions made in the paragraph 15 of the first part of article 78 of the Constitution, under which the chambers of Parliament are entitled to hear the report of the Prime Minister on urgent issues of socio-economic development of the country. This significantly expands the possibilities of the parliamentary control over the activities of the executive branch, and will become an important factor in increasing the effectiveness of the activity of the deputies and fractions in promoting the interests of their constituents in addressing the pressing social and economic issues.

The members of the fraction of the Adolat Social Democratic Party stressed that the introduced amendments to the Constitution significantly expand the rights and the effectiveness of the executive branch in organizing its activities. In the paragraph 8 of article 93 of the Constitution, the authority of the President to “form and direct the executive authority staff” is excluded.

Representatives of the Parliamentary Group of the Environmental Movement of Uzbekistan stressed the importance of the changes to the Constitution, which outline the mechanisms of parliamentary control in the formation and implementation of the national budget. For example, the new paragraph 6 of article 80 of the Constitution has a norm according to which the Senate is granted the right to approve the President’s decrees on appointment of the Chairman of the Accounts Chamber.

Taking into account the views expressed at the meeting, the Legislative Chamber adopted the Law “On amendments to certain articles of the Constitution (articles 78, 80, 93, 96 and 98)”.

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 Deputies approve 2011 action program

 January 03, 2011

The Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan held a session on 30 December to consider the Program of actions for 2011 and the following years to implement the Concept of deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society, proposed by President Islam Karimov.

The program has been developed to speed up democratic transformations and forma strong civil society. It contains ideas of all parties represented in the parliament.

The document defines legislative and organizational measures to implement in practice the President’s concept, which consists of six parts.

The deputies said the concept of the head of the state had a great importance in improving the people’s welfare and protecting their constitutional rights and freedoms.
With consideration of the opinions expressed during the discussion, the deputies approved the program of action for 2011 and further years.

The chamber also considered draft law on limitation of distribution and consumption of alcohol and tobacco products.

The document, developed in the framework of the Year of Harmoniously Developed Generation state program, aims at reducing the negative influence of the alcohol and tobacco on the health of the people, mainly youth.

After the consideration of the draft law, the Legislative Chamber approved the concept of the document and passed it in the first reading.

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 Milliy Tiklanish discusses presidential concept

 December 23, 2010

The Central Council of the Democratic Party of Uzbekistan “Milliy Tiklanish” held a meeting to discuss the presidential concept on deepening the democratic reforms and forming a civil society.

The members of the council and party’s faction in Legislative Chamber as well as the regional activists attended the event.

It was noted at the event that the concept proposed by President Karimov contributed to the country’s modernization and building of civil society on a higher level, addressing special responsibility on political parties.

The sides exchanged views on the implementation of concept’s initiatives on further development and strengthening of parliament and increasing the role of political parties in society.

Also, the specific measures to study the concept by the representatives of regional organizations and deputies of local councils were outlined at the meeting.

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  Parliament discusses President’s legislative initiatives

December 01, 2010

The Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan on 30 November considered the priority tasks set by the President for the parliament in his recently presented Concept of deepening democratic reforms.

The deputies said the head of the state had put forward a wide-scale and deeply reasoned program of expanding democratic reforms and formation of civil society.

They especially highlighted the President’s legislative initiatives to amend the Constitution and adopt new laws to improve the balance of the powers among the three subjects of state authority – the President as the head of the state, the legislative and the executive authorities.

For the first time in Uzbekistan, a new order is going to be introduced when the Prime Minister’s candidature is proposed by the political party that won the majority of seats at the elections to the Legislative Chamber or several parties which have equal deputy seats.

Another novelty is granting the parliament the right to issue a no-confidence vote to the Premier, which would lead to the resignation of the whole Cabinet. These measures will significantly increase the role of the parties and the parliament on the whole in solving the most important state issues, the deputies said.

During the discussion, the members of the lower house proposed to develop a set of measures to implement the President’s initiatives and improve the parliament’s activity.

In particular, they called for searching new forms and methods of work of the committees and the fractions, expanding the interaction of the parliament with other bodies, improving the legislative activities and learning the leading foreign experience of law-making.

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President Karimov’s Initiatives to Open New Phase in Reforming Uzbekistan

November 16, 2010

Joint Session of Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of Uzbekistan was held in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent on November 12, 2010. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov addressed the session.

Mr. Karimov identified the main priorities and put forward a number of important legislatives initiatives which aim to strengthen the status of various democratic institutions like parliament, NGOs, mass media, institutes of civil society, deepen the democratic, legal, political and economic reforms in the country.

Speaking of the results accomplished in Uzbekistan during the years of independence, Mr. Karimov said that after gaining independence in 1991 the country denied the obsolete totalitarian, administrative-command and planning-distributive system and elaborated its own model the “Uzbek model” of development.

Thanks to this, Uzbekistan’s GDP during less than 20 years of independence grew 3.5 times, while per capita ratio accounted for 2.5 times, real incomes of population grew 3.8 times, state expenses for social security grew 5 times, child and maternal mortality rates fell three and two-fold respectively, life expectancy of men climbed to 73 from 67 years, and to 75 years among women.

“We consciously rejected the revolutionary option of reforms by the methods of “shock therapy” in favor of evolutionary and phased development. Thus, we protected our people from the harsh economic and social turbulences”, – President Karimov has said.

Besides, according to the President, in 2008-2010 when almost the entire world was suffering the global economic and financial crisis Uzbekistan recorded GDP growth at 9 percent, in 2009 – 8.1 percent, and in 2010 it is expected to be 8.5 percent, while in 2011 it is estimated to be 8.3 percent.

Despite these impressive achievements, the Uzbek President believes that the country has a long and difficult way to accomplish it man goal of building an open democratic and law-governed state with sustainable economy.

“Euphoria and complacency, alienation from reality are the main dangers we may face on our way to the prime goal”, the President said.

Having identified democratization of state power and governance as one of main priorities for future development President Karimov said that this aims to implement the constitutional principle of separation of powers, create an effective system of checks and balances, strengthen the role of state power and controlling functions of legislative and representative branches of power in all levels, as well as liberalize and ensure the independence of judicial system.

Now, with a view to continuing the perfection of political system of the country as well as the system of state power and governance, the President has proposed to delegate some powers from the Head of country to the Parliament and Prime Minister.

Thus, it is suggested that the candidature of Prime Minister shall be nominated by a political party, which gains the biggest number of seats in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis (Lower House of the Parliament), or by several political parties, which gain equal number of seats.

After considering the candidature, the President, in ten days’ time shall submit it for the consideration and approval by both chambers of the Parliament.

The nomination shall be deemed approved, if more than a half of MPs vote for it. The members of the Cabinet of Ministers shall be approved by President of the Republic of Uzbekistan upon the nomination of Prime Minister.

In case of persistent contradictions between the Prime Minister and the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis with regard to the proposal officially submitted to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan by at least one third of the members of the Legislative Chamber, the issue of passing the vote of no confidence in Prime Minister shall tabled at the joint sitting of both houses of the Parliament.

The vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister shall be deemed passed, if at least two thirds of members of both chambers of the parliament vote for it.

In this case, the President shall make a decision on relieving the Prime Minister from his post and entire Cabinet of Ministers shall resign along with the Prime Minister.

The new candidature of the Prime Minister shall be nominated by President following relevant consultations with all fractions of political parties represented in the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis.

If the Oliy Majlis refuse the President’s nominee for two times in a row, the Head of country shall appoint an acting Prime Minister and dissolve the Parliament.

According to the President, these amendments introduce the new procedure of nomination and approval of Prime Minister, which meets democratic principles, and gives the Parliament the right to pass a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

Yet another initiative in the sphere of democratization of state power and governance envisages ruling out the ambiguity and vague interpretations in case of situation when President of the country may not be able to exercise his duties. Thus, the President has quoted this initiative as saying: “ Shall the President of the country not be able to exercise his duties, then his duties and authorities shall be temporarily entrusted to the Chairman of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and presidential elections shall be held within three months from this moment”.

Reforming the judicial and legal system is the President’s yet another priority. In this regard Mr. Karimov said that Uzbekistan has so far implemented a set of organizational and legal measures aimed at consistent consolidation of judicial power, ensuring independence of courts, turning them into a truly independent institution of state whose main job is to protect and safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens.

President underlined that for over the last years Uzbekistan was able to take out the judicial system of control and influence of bodies of the executive power. Besides, Uzbekistan established courts for civil and criminal cases which has led to significant improvements in legal system. The guarantees of legal protection of citizens have been significantly reinforced.

Uzbekistan has been consistently moving towards ensuring the equality of prosecution and defense, competitiveness at all stages of criminal and civil legal procedure, as well as improving the quality and timeliness of administering justice.

According to the President, nearly so far 75 percent of crimes were moved from the category of grave and the gravest crimes to the category of crimes, which do not represent serious public danger and the lesser grave crimes.

Besides, now Uzbekistan widely uses penalty and restitution rather than arrest and detention for economic crimes.

Thanks liberalization legal of system Uzbekistan now has one of the lowest number prisoners per 100 thousand people which is 166 prisoners. Meanwhile, in Russia it makes up 611 and in the United States – 738 prisoners. Besides, for over the last 10 years the number of prisoners in Uzbekistan fell two-fold.

According to the President abolishment of death penalty in Uzbekistan from January 2008 and replacing it with life sentence has become the crucial moment of legal reforms in Uzbekistan so far.

Moreover, life imprisonment in Uzbekistan is an exceptional punishment and shall be enforced only for two counts of crimes – premeditated murder in aggravating circumstances and terrorism. At the same time this type of punishment may not to women, persons who were below 18 years of age while committing the crime and men above 60 years of age.

The President said that introduction of “Habeas Corpus” has become yet another principle step forward in implementing the judicial reforms in the country.

Since 2001 the institute of reconciliation was introduced into the law-enforcement and judicial practice in Uzbekistan and has proven to be effectively. Within this practice nearly 100,000 citizens were released from criminal liability.

President has put forward a number of initiatives on enhancing the legal system of the country. For instance, Mr. Karimov suggests that it is expedient to deny the courts the authority to file a criminal case which will turn them into a body justice rather than a body of legal prosecution.

The President has also proposed to adopt the new Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Administrative Responsibility in the new wording. The code in force was adopted in 1994 and since then it has been amended more than 60 times.

In his address President Karimov outlined the sphere of mass media, freedom of speech and information as yet another important and integral part reforms.

For over the years of independence, and particularly, during the last 10 years, Uzbekistan implemented a large-scale set of organizational and legal measures with a view to ensuring the freedom of speech and liberalizing the mass media.

“For over this period ten acts of legislation have been adopted to provide for effective functioning of information space, dynamic and free development of mass media”, the President said.

Besides, the National Association of Electronic Mass Media, which now joins more than 100 electronic mass media and the Social Fund to Support and Develop Independent Print Media and News Agencies of Uzbekistan have been established with an aim to rendering comprehensive support to the non-state media.

According to the President, during these years Uzbekistan has set up the satellite network of TV and Radio broadcasting. Today the national system of telecommunications has direct international channels on 28 directions with an access to 180 countries worldwide. On-line broadcasting on Internet is also available.

As a result of this extensive work for over the last decade, the number of print mass media grew 1.5 times while electronic mass media grew 7 times and now makes up about 1200 mass media outlets. Nearly 53 percent of all television channels and 85 percent of radio channels are the non-state. Mass media in Uzbekistan broadcast in 7 languages including English. The number of Internet users now total over a 6 million.

Meanwhile, the President believes that adoption of the Law “On transparency of activity of bodies of state power and governance” is urgent since it could eliminate the bottlenecks in terms of observing the constitutional rights of citizens to information and raising the responsibility of state authorities and governing bodies for the quality of their decisions.

Then, the President has proposed to adopt the Law “On television and radio broadcasting” with a view to developing this crucially important sphere which plays yet more significant role in the processes of democratization.

Meanwhile, upgrading the television and radio broadcasting into an independent and powerful industry, emergence of new forms and types of television and radio broadcasting make it necessary to adopt a single law which would regulate the processes related to creating and disseminating the television and radio programs.

The President has also suggested to adopt the laws “On economic foundations of activity of the mass media”, “On the guarantees of state support of the mass media” aimed at promoting the efficiency of activity and protection of economic interests of mass media, granting additional economic preferences, implementing.

Underlining the importance of ensuring the freedom of choice and development of the electoral legislation in Uzbekistan which is yet another important part of proposed reforms, the President said that the country has developed effective and democratic electoral system. In particular, the Central Election Commission was given an exclusive authorities to prepare and hold elections which has become one of the crucial moments in the process of perfecting the electoral system. Under the law, any attempts to interfere in the election campaign by state bodies and authorities, as well as the public associations are prosecuted by law.

Meanwhile, the amendments to the law on elections of 2008 became an important stage in developing the electoral system. With increasing the number of seats from 120 to 150, of which 135 deputies are elected from political parties, 15 seats in the Legislative Chamber are allocated to the deputies from the Ecological movement of Uzbekistan.

The electoral system became an important factor of enhancing the social and political activeness of women and their role in the sphere of state and social construction. The electoral law now stipulates the norms that women should make at least 30 percent of nominees from political parties for deputy seats.

Thanks to this norm now 22 percent of the total number of MPs in lower house of the Uzbek parliament are women while women make up 15 percent of MPs in the upper house

The President in his address put forward a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring equality during election campaign. Mr. Karimov also suggested to ban campaigning not only in the election day but also in the day prior to voting.

According to the President, this norm is used in the legislation of several developed foreign countries and aims to give voters some more additional time to make up their minds and define their political preferences.

The President also proposed to prohibit publishing the result of opinion polls within five days prior to the voting day and in the voting day. This ban would also include Internet along with traditional mass media.

Developing the institutions of civil society was another sphere, the President outlined in his address. At present there are over 5.100 NGOs in Uzbekistan. It is 2.5 times more than in 2000. The number of citizens’ gatherings and the self-governance bodies – makhalla make up more than 10 thousand.

Such national institutions on human rights as the Ombudsman, National Center for Human Rights, Institute for Research of Public Opinion, Institute of Monitoring the Current Legislation have been successfully operating in the country.
So far over a 200 law and legislative acts related to enhancing the role and importance of institutes of civil society have been adopted in the country.

During the last three years alone the Social fund at the Oliy Majlis allocated more than 11 billion Uzbek soums to implement various social projects initiated by the civil society institutions.

The President believes that adoption of the Law “On social partnership” may have a profound significance in ensuring further development of civil society institutions, strengthening their role in providing transparency and efficiency of ongoing reforms.

Mr. Karimov also suggests that it is high time to adopt the Law “On public control in the Republic of Uzbekistan” aimed at creating the systematic and effective legal mechanism of control on the part of society and civic institutions over implementation of laws by bodies of state power and governance.

The Law “On ecological control” aimed at defining the role and place of the NGOs in the system of environmental protection is also one of the urgent tasks, the President has said.

Finally, the President suggested to further deepen the market reforms and continue with liberalization of economy.

According to the President, so far, Uzbekistan adopted and successfully enacted over 400 laws on economic and market reforms. Yet, it is a long way to go.

In this context the President put forward believes it is necessary to adopt the Law “On protection of private property and guarantees of rights of owners”, which would fix the principal guarantees of state with regard to private ownership that represents the basis of market economy.

Further, in order to improve the system of management and eliminate the excessive bureaucratic obstacles, it will be important to draft and adopt the Law “On licensing procedures in the sphere of entrepreneurial activity”.

“We need to clearly define the strictly limited shortlist and types of licensing procedures required to do business, thus resolutely cutting the excessive restrictions and setting forward the legislative prohibition on introduction of the new types of licenses and licensing procedures not envisaged by law”, the President said.

Mr.Karimov also put forward the idea of defining the new organizational and legal forms of business – the family business. “I am confident that establishing the legislative basis for its organization shall allow improve the legal guarantees of family business, bring about the conditions for a rapid and extensive development of family business in different branches of economy.

The President also proposed to adopt the new Law “On competition”, which would stipulate the norms that regulate the monopolistic activity not only on the commodity, but also on financial markets.

Experts believe that the initiatives put forward by President Islam Karimov open a new phase in the implementation of political, democratic, economic and legal reforms in Uzbekistan. Successful and timely implementation of President Karimov’s initiatives will enhance Uzbekistan’s leading positions in political and economic arena, as well as turn Uzbekistan into captain of democratic reforms in Central Asia.

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