Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev says he will relocate most of the country's cabinet ministers to the provinces so they can experience firsthand the hardships ordinary people face in their everyday lives.
“Seventy percent of ministers and other high-ranking managers, who are based in Tashkent, will now live in the provinces. I am not going to allow any of them to stay in Tashkent,” Mirziyoev said in a government meeting on April 26.
“We see on television how people live in the provinces: without running water, gas, modern sewage systems, and electricity,” the president said.
“Out of the country’s 32 million population, 2.5 million live in the capital, Tashkent, and the rest of the people live in the provinces,” he said.
Mirziyoev did not say which ministers would be relocated to the regions or for how long they would have to stay there. He didn’t also give a time frame for their moves, but said “there will be a presidential decree soon.”
Since taking office in December 2016, Mirziyoev has on several occasions accused government officials of being arrogant and losing touch with reality.
In the April 26 meeting, he singled out Tashkent city district chiefs for criticism.
Mirziyoev demanded the heads of the capital’s 11 districts take measures to improve people’s lives or face losing their jobs.
“If the district chiefs of Tashkent are not able to attract a million-dollar foreign investment, I don’t need that kind of district head. I will fire them all,” Mirziyoev said, giving the officials a six-month deadline to come up with new initiatives.
“We’ll wait six months and if there won’t be improvements during this period, we would close down the offices of district governments,” the president warned. “There would only be the mayor of Tashkent and 11 assistants [overseeing each district].”
The meeting in Tashkent came on the same day that Jahongir Ortiqkhojaev, a 43-year-old wealthy businessman, was appointed acting mayor of the capital, replacing Rahmonbek Usmonov, who held the position for six years.
Mirziyoev said the previous mayor’s job performance was unsatisfactory, adding that efforts to improve people’s living standards under the old mayor were moving at the speed of a “turtle.”
The president warned Uzbek officials that they should try to “keep people content” as the “only guarantee” to keep their posts.