Experts Prescribe Strict Diet for Tajik Economy

Economists say Tajikistan should focus more on building up manufacturing and rely less on exporting raw commodities.

Experts Prescribe Strict Diet for Tajik Economy

Economists say Tajikistan should focus more on building up manufacturing and rely less on exporting raw commodities.

Saturday, 18 April, 2009
They say it can no longer rely on the export revenues from unprocessed cotton and aluminium, prices of which have slumped on international markets.



“We used to think that cotton was a lucrative strategic crop and that it helped us. Now we see that it it isn’t helping us,” said Saifullo Safarov, deputy head of the Centre for Strategic Studies.



As reporter Shahodat Saibnazarova notes, this adds to the worries caused by another consequence of the international economic crisis, the dwindling funds sent home by labour migrants in Russia and other countries as jobs there dry up.



Some are predicting that the total amount of remittances this year will show a 60 or 65 per cent drop on the 2008 figure. The impact on Tajik households which depend on these funds for their survival cannot be overestimated.



Although there is no comprehensive strategy for overcoming the economic crisis in Tajikistan, each ministry is drawing up its own plans.



Last year, the Centre for Strategic Studies submitted a 29-point plan to the economy and trade ministry, proposing among other things to cut bank commission rates to encourage money transfers, and to encourage domestic industry, construction and agriculture.



Safarov says the authorities should try to see the ongioing crisis as an opportunity to alter their economic course towards adding value through processing commodities, rather than shipping them out of the country in their raw state.



“We shouldn’t merely sell aluminium, but rather turn it into [manufactured] products. That would be an appropriate anti-crisis measure,” he said. “The same goes for cotton. That would increase the returns from cotton tenfold.”



Hojimahmad Umarov , who heads the macroeconomics department at the Institute for Economic Studies, says there are a lot of potential workplaces at enterprises that are either at a standstill or are working at a fraction of their capacity. He says the first thing the authorities should do is draw up a list of firms that could produce for the local market and thereby soak up surplus labour resources.



“We should mainly try to boost import-replacement industries rather than export-oriented ones. We should pay less attention to sectors that are involved in exporting, and more to those that can supply goods to the domestic market,” said Umarov. “If necessary, we should even think about restricting imports of foreign goods if there’s potential for meeting domestic demand with local products.”
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