Japan has opened a credit line, worth more than US$100 million, for the modernization and expansion of Uzbekistan’s telecommunications network. The agreement, announced in Tashkent yesterday, was signed during Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov’s just-completed visit to Japan, during which he co-chaired a session of the bilateral economic cooperation committee. The session reported that Japan invested almost US$200 million dollars in Uzbekistan in 1998.
Also yesterday in Tashkent, the WMC Corporation of Australia signed with two Uzbek state agencies an agreement to create the joint venture Zarmitangold as a closed joint-stock company. It will develop the Zarmitan and Guzhumsai gold deposits, situated in the Samarkand region. The two incompletely prospected deposits contain estimated nominal reserves of twenty tons of metal. The metal content of the ore is assessed at ten grams per ton. WMC holds a 50 percent interest in the venture; Uzbekistan’s State Committee for Geology and Minerals and the state trust for gold and diamond mining hold 25 percent each. WMC had won the international tender for the project in 1996, but the project was subsequently held up by unfavorable price trends for gold on international markets.
In Washington, the World Bank announced yesterday that Uzbekistan has received a loan to finance consultancy services by the International Investment Bank for case-by-case privatization of state enterprises. The Uzbek government is preparing six privatization tenders for individual enterprises or clusters of enterprises. These include: the Ferghana Oil-Processing Plant (the country’s largest) plus some gas stations associated with it; Mahali Telecom and Halkaro Telecom (international and local, respectively); the Tashkent International Airport; eight chemical enterprises, including rubber, nitrate fertilizer and phosphate-ammonia fertilizer plants; and the Chadak and Mardjanbulak gold mines (Asia Pulse, March 30).
SENIOR TAJIK OFFICIAL ASSASSINATED.