Uzbekistan Seems About Broke — A Continuing Series

Post image for Uzbekistan Seems About Broke — A Continuing Series

by Nathan Hamm on 4/10/2012 · 6 comments

Since the government of Uzbekistan’s economic and budget reports are unreliable, making proxy indicators about the only things that allow for any kind of realistic assessment of the government and country’s financial health. The latest sign of the Uzbek government’s poor financial health is the news that teachers and doctors in Vobkent district of Bukhara province have been paid a portion of their salaries in the form of chickens.

Public sector workers get 10 chicks each under the initiative, launched after cabinet ministers in February urged regional governments to boost domestic production of poultry, eggs, meat, and vegetables.

“We were given a mandatory 10 chicks each,” says Odil, a 32-year-old teacher, who spoke to RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service. “Each chick costs 5,500 soms ($3). It’s a little more expensive than local chicks. There is no way to refuse the offer; it was compulsory.”

Officials say that the program of paying public employees with live Serbian chickens is so successful that it will probably expand it to more areas and perhaps also include cows as future payment.

Previous indicators Uzbekistan is hard up for cash recently have been the hard push to substitute local consumption of natural gas with wood and coal, the wider net cast in recent years for cotton harvests, and continuing tight border controls, particularly with Kyrgyzstan, keeping foreign consumer goods from entering the Uzbek market.

Photo via Steven Lilley at Flickr

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Sarah Kendzior April 11, 2012 at 6:46 am

In the most telling move of all, they are changing the rules to woo foreign investors:

So much for “Uzbekistan will never depend on anyone”…

Nathan Hamm April 11, 2012 at 9:14 am
Will April 11, 2012 at 9:48 am

But they paid (!) to import the Serbian chickens. If the municipal government don’t have enough cash (likely), they could have distributed local chicks instead. Public workers simply became easy targets for implementing the cabinet minister’s decision.

P.S. 5,500 soums is $2. I like how the media chooses which exchange rate to use.

Nathan Hamm April 11, 2012 at 9:55 am

The prices in the story are probably a poor guide to the cash equation. My guess is that the teacher is providing a market rate and he’s also giving the municipality’s valuation. I would assume they paid less than that per chicken.

Vallu April 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

WTF is that it is only cover change not substance, it needs strong institutions and single committee overlooking FDI not this corrupt MVESIT.

Metin April 12, 2012 at 2:49 am

It’s not about government being broke, but more about inefficient governance.

sounds odd, but public sector workers might, after all, benefit from superior serbian chicks. They got kind of acquired an asset that will grow in value as the time passes.

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