TASHKENT -- Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has criticized regional governors for what he calls a "lack of leadership" and a "failure" to coordinate efforts to support small- and medium-sized businesses in recent years.
At an online meeting with the regional governors on April 8, Mirziyoev warned governors that if the situation does not improve within the next three months, they will be fired.
"The governors are not self-confident, they hesitate to fire those who do not work. Well, if one is not fired, I will fire him. A leader who does not support small and medium businesses is not a leader," Mirziyoev stated.
Mirziyoev emphasized at the meeting that problems with infrastructure in many regions led to the failure of 320 private businesses to put some $220 million worth of imported equipment into service over the last two years.
According to him, lack of electricity only led to numerous private businesses' closure, loss of dozens of millions of dollars, and an increase of unemployment each year.
"If we do not support private businesses, if we fail to create proper conditions for them, if we do not increase the number of private businesses, there will be no additional money for our cities and districts," Mirziyoev said, adding that by the end of 2021, tens of millions of dollars will be earmarked for improvement of infrastructure for the operations of small- and medium-sized businesses across the country.
At the meeting, Mirziyoev sacked several deputy governors and officially reprimanded governors of southeastern regions of Qashqadaryo and Navoiy, where the situation faced by private business is reportedly the worst.
Mirziyoev’s public criticism of regional governors comes less than seven months before a presidential election scheduled for October 24.
Mirziyoev took over the most-populous nation of the Central Asian region of 32 million after his authoritarian predecessor Islam Karimov's death was announced on September 1, 2016.