Uzbekistan's Finance Ministry has dismissed 562 employees after President Shavkat Mirziyoev harshly criticized the ministry's performance and ordered it to get rid of inefficient officials, whom he called "rats," state news agency UzA has reported.
In a speech on December 23, Mirziyoev said he "had already fired top officials who had been working in finance for 15-20 years but didn't know much about finance."
"I fired top officials, but those rats at the bottom levels still remain there," he said, adding that the situation in the finance sector "remains the same."
Mirziyoev warned newly appointed Finance Minister Jamshid Kuchkarov to "change the situation" or face dismissal himself "in one month."
Mirziyoev severely criticized what he described as a poorly drafted state budget, failure to finance important projects, and embellishing economic data.
The ministry employs about 3,000 people and a further 13,000 in subordinate agencies such as the state pension fund.
According to the UzA report, the officials who were fired following the president's speech were holdovers from "a previous minister" -- a clear reference to Rustam Azimov, a former minister of finance and deputy prime minister fired by Mirziyoev in June.
The UzA report did not identify Azimov by name. Mirziyoev named Kuchkarov finance minister in November, replacing his previous appointee Botir Hojaev, who took over the Economy Ministry instead.
Based on reporting by UzA, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, Reuters, and Gazeta.uz