Congratulatory address of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Leader of the Nation Emomali Rahmon on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the National Unity Day

Dear compatriots!

In the history of every people and nation, events are recorded that, as the fruit of the mind and wisdom of these people, are of great and tremendous importance for the strength of the state and serve future generations as a torch illuminating the path.

The achievement of peace and stability and the establishment of national unity for the Tajik people are such historical events, and today the 25th anniversary of National Unity Day is widely celebrated in our beloved country.

On this occasion, I sincerely and warmly congratulate all of you, all dear Tajikistan and foreign compatriots.

In the early nineties of the last century, in the aftermath of the intrigues of the traitors of the Tajik people and the enemies of the Tajik state, the people of independent Tajikistan were plunged into the maelstrom of an imposed civil war, as a result of which all spheres of society and the state faced a tragic crisis.

The biggest danger that arose in those difficult times was the threat of the collapse of the Tajik nation and the disappearance of the young Tajik state from the political map of the world.

Such a difficult and dangerous situation forced the faithful, patriotic and vigilant sons and daughters of the nation to take serious steps to prevent this dangerous process and, above all, to convene a session of the Supreme Council - the only competent body of that time.

At the sixteenth historical session of the Supreme Council, from the date of which 30 years have passed, the first fateful documents were adopted for the speedy cessation of war and bloodshed, the restoration of constitutional power and the functioning of paralyzed state structures, the return of refugees to their homeland and other important decisions aimed at saving the nation and state.

In this way, we have taken the first steps towards national understanding and consensus and created a favorable basis for ensuring national unity.

In this regard, I emphasize that it was thanks to the adoption and implementation of the decisions of the XVI Session on the restoration of peace and stability, the establishment of the foundations of a sovereign democratic, legal, secular and social state, the laying of the bases for a free civil society, the rule of law and justice, that the necessary conditions were created for the start of implementation of social and economic development programs.

Then began the process of negotiations between the Tajiks, which lasted more than four years in different countries of the region and the world.

Long peace negotiations ended on June 27, 1997 in Moscow with the signing of a fateful document - the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan.

In this regard, I would like to reiterate a historical fact that I have repeatedly spoken about.

The reality is that the will, aspirations, tolerance and eternal wisdom of the Tajik civilized and cultured people, creative thinking and the invincible spirit of the people of Tajikistan are the most important factors in achieving peace, political stability and national unity.

I always say these words with pride for the heroic Tajik people.

At the same time, we should never forget one important point, that peace and tranquility are the most precious blessings of our lives and their protection and preservation is considered the sacred duty of every citizen of Tajikistan.

Peace, tranquility and national unity are vital values for us, thanks to which the people of Tajikistan today work together and selflessly for the sake of the prosperity of the Motherland, the progress of the state, the implementation of strategic national goals and the well-being of every family.

Today, our people are well aware that the peaceful life of every family, the realization of the intentions and dreams of every citizen, the prosperity of the Motherland and the progress of the state are possible only if there is lasting peace and stability.

Also, observance of religious rites, which are an important part of the life of our Muslim people, can only be ensured in conditions of security, peace and political stability.

In this process, it should be remembered that the traitors and ill-wishers of our state and people - those who trampled on national and state interests and sold their faith and conscience to their foreign masters, have not yet abandoned their selfish intentions and plans.

Therefore, we must always be ready to defend peace, tranquility, political stability and national unity, and never lose political vigilance so as not to be taken by surprise.

It should be noted that the experience of Tajik peacekeeping and ensuring national unity has become not only a factor in saving the Tajik nation, but is also recognized by the world community and influential international organizations as an instructive historical lesson and a unique experience in resolving conflicts and confrontations.

The importance of peace and tranquility is growing in modern conditions, especially in recent years, when humanity is facing extremely difficult problems.

In addition to the dire consequences of global climate change, including lack of water, drought, food shortages, rising food prices around the world and the spread of infectious diseases, security challenges, such an unprecedented expansion of modern threats such as terrorism, extremism, religious radicalism, arms trafficking and drugs, cybercrime and other transnational organized crime have made human life very chaotic and unbearable.

In such sensitive conditions in the world community, that is, the growing political and economic situation in the world and the complexity of globalization processes, maintaining peace and stability in society, strengthening national unity is one of the sacred tasks of every patriotic person.

All members of society, whether old or young, should realize the vital importance of peace, tranquility, political stability and national unity and, as the apple of their eye, protect these priceless benefits along with the greatest achievement of the recent history of our beloved country - independence and freedom.

The most important task of state bodies, all representatives of the intelligentsia, scientists, writers and media workers, parents, the word of society as a whole is to educate the younger generation in the spirit of self-consciousness and self-knowledge, patriotism, loyalty to their people and state.

You and I must sincerely love our beautiful land, appreciate the Motherland and always express gratitude for the peace and security of the country and for national unity.

Expansion of work on creation and improvement for the sake of the prosperity of our beloved Motherland - Tajikistan, and the development of our independent state is the task of each of us - the masters of our destiny and Fatherland.

With best wishes, once again, I sincerely and warmly congratulate the glorious people of Tajikistan and our foreign compatriots on the occasion of National Unity Day.

May national unity, peace and security, abundance, happiness and prosperity always reign on the ancient Tajik land!

Be always healthy and succeed in everything, dear compatriots!


Source: http://president.tj/en/node/28626

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Address on key aspects of Tajikistan’s domestic and foreign policy by the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Leader of the Nation, H.E. Emomali Rahmon to the Parliament of the Republic of Tajikistan

Паёми Президенти Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон, Пешвои миллат муҳтарам Эмомалӣ Раҳмон ба Маҷлиси Олии Ҷумҳурии Тоҷикистон «Дар бораи самтҳои асосии сиёсати дохилӣ ва хориҷии ҷумҳурӣ»

Esteemed Compatriots!

Distinguished Members of Majlisi Milli and Majlisi Namoyandagon of Majlisi Oli!

This year I am addressing the supreme legislative body of our country in the truly historic for the glorious people of Tajikistan year - the 30th anniversary of the state independence and freedom of our beloved Motherland.

Everybody, including our dear compatriots, honorable members of the Parliament and distinguished participants have witnessed the 2020 as one of the most difficult years for the people of the planet, including Tajikistan from many perspectives.

As a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus and the associated rapid decline in economic activity and the unprecedented rise in unemployment, the situation on the planet has become even more complicated, leading to a severe economic, financial and social crisis.

It is hard to find any country or even sector in the world not affected by the crisis. According to the international experts, this is the first ever such a severe crisis of this kind during the last hundred years leading to a serious recession in the world economy.

The pandemic has negatively affected the world economy, including our national economic growth, public budget, foreign trade, exchange rate, and the operation of our industrial enterprises and service providers. In other words, we have worked in a tense global economic and financial situation in 2020, and despite the challenges we faced, we have taken a number of immediate actions to prevent the consequences of the crisis and protect our economic security.

We have revised the public budget for 2020 and introduced relevant changes in the revenue, expenditure and deficit indicators based on the declined budget revenues and need for increased funding in the social sectors, particularly in the healthcare and other contingencies. In particular, we channeled TJS 1.6 billion from the public budget additionally for the procurement of medicines and medical equipment, construction of temporary hospitals and support of healthcare workers.

We have mobilized more than 30 hospitals with 7,000 beds and 5,400 doctors and healthcare providers to facilitate full and timely treatment of people infected with СOVID-19. In addition, we prepared 16,000 beds in 92 medical institutions.

The Executive Decree of the President of June 5, 2020 also offered significant tax and credit relieves, incentives and remedies totaling more than TJS 450 million to support the vulnerable groups and domestic entrepreneurs.

In addition, with a view to reducing the impact of the pandemic, our credit institutions provided credit relieves amounting TJS 2.3 billion to more than 260,000 customers and TJS 4 billion of loans to industrial entrepreneurs in 2020, which is by 2% higher against the 2019 indicator of this kind.

To improve the social conditions of the population, we increased the size of pensions, salaries of the budget-supported organizations and institutions’ staff, and scholarships by 15%, salaries of law enforcement officers and military personnel by 10%, and allowances of persons with disabilities in need of care by 50% on September 1, 2020.

We scaled up the areas under basic and secondary growing of agricultural crops by tens of thousands of hectares to protect our country's food security and increase the domestic production.

Despite the negative impact of these factors, the immediate actions undertaken by the Government of the country made it possible to ensure the stability of macroeconomic indicators and maintain positive trends in improving living standards of the population.

Our economy grew by 4.5 percent in 2020 and the GDP reached TJS 82.5 billion TJS. During this period, the industrial production increased by 9.7%, agriculture by 8.8% and foreign trade by 0.8%, including export by 19.8% and created a foundation for the country's economic development. In particular, food production increased by 28.3% compared to 2019, which facilitated greater supply of the domestic market with the local produce.

We have mobilized more than TJS 5.4 billion of foreign investments, including TJS 1.3 billion of foreign direct investments to various sectors of our national economy. Last year, we constructed and commissioned 300 new industrial enterprises and workshops creating more than 6,500 jobs, 157 secondary schools and supporting facilities for 63,000 students, 108 healthcare facilities and more than 1.2 million m2 of housing. During this period, we created more than 193,000 permanent and seasonal jobs, and the monetary income of the population increased by 10 percent. In 2020, deposits in our banking system increased by 17.2% and amounted to TJS 11.4 billion proving increased public confidence to the credit institutions.

In 2020, thanks to the dedicated work of the glorious people of Tajikistan, generous entrepreneurs and other honorable people across the country, we constructed and commissioned 18,300 industrial, social and cultural facilities on the occasion of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of our independence. The majority of these facilities are designed as educational, healthcare and sport complexes creating tens of thousands of new jobs. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to every youngster and adult in Tajikistan, including entrepreneurs and generous people for their faithful work for the sake of prosperity and progress of our beloved Motherland.

The history of our national statehood recorded the 2020 with important and memorable events, when we celebrated the 5500th anniversary of ancient Sarazm and the 700th jubilee of Kamoli Khujandi based on the resolution of a reputable international organization - UNESCO.

Also, last year we successfully conducted two politically important events – Parliamentary and Presidential elections in Tajikistan with the proactive participation of our people in peaceful environment, complete political stability and national unity.

The rapid changes in the current world and their negative impact on the world economy and each individual country require us to promote sustainable, inclusive and green development. To this end, the Government needs to intensify its activities on resistance to threats and crises, creation of development-centered opportunities and financial resources, diversification of the economy, expansion of the digitalization process, access to finance and business support, addressing social issues, climate change and the transition to a green economy. In other words, in the context of the rapidly changing and tense situation in the current world, we primarily need to rely on our domestic capacity and opportunities and make greater efforts for economic development, protection of food security and the public health.

In this context, in 2021 it is first of all important to enhance the effective use of the existing opportunities and resources, commission new and operationalize the existing assets, encourage domestic and foreign investment, and thereby, achieve the target indicators, in particular, GDP growth of at least 7 percent, and address the day-to-day issues of the population.

Distinguished Members of Parliament!

Over the past seven years, the public budget revenues increased from TJS 14.6 billion in 2014 to TJS 23.6 billion in 2020. In 2020, the share of social expenditures comprised 50 percent of the total public budget expenditures.

However, we have yet to address the issues of full transition to international financial reporting standards and e-financing system, including e-procurement system since we are lagging behind in this area.

To adjust the affairs in the field of accounting, and to further encourage direct investments, the Ministries of Finance, Industry and Innovative Technologies, the State Committee on Investments and State Property Management, the Tax Committee and other relevant supervisory authorities have to undertake immediate actions to introduce international financial reporting standards, and make sure the entities of public interest and other economic institutions undergo mandatory annual audit.

I have to note that the banking system assets increased from TJS 311 million in 2000 to more than TJS 26 billion in 2020. Last year, credit institutions issued about TJS 10 billion of loans to various sectors of the country's economy, which is 4.6 percent more than in 2019. However, this indicator is still low enough to achieve our development goals.

The low level of lending to the national economy’s areas, weak corporate governance, high operational and credit risks, persistent nonperforming loans, insufficient investment to the banking system, and limited number of foreign bank representative offices are among the shortcomings hindering increased financing of manufacturing enterprises, which needs to be addressed at the earliest possible.

In this regard, the National Bank should bring the legal and regulatory framework in line with the requirements of the latest international practice, and ensure introduction of the corporate governance in financial institutions and gradually increase their statutory capital.

In this process it is important to undertake necessary actions jointly with financial institutions to improve the quality of banking system assets, increase the portfolio of long-term loans to manufacturing enterprises, and vitalize the national rating system for credit institutions and insurance companies.

The National Bank and credit institutions need to implement all necessary actions to attract greater amount of domestic and foreign capital to the banking system, expand banking services through the introduction of financial and innovative technologies and thereby jointly with relevant ministries and agencies undertake actions to fully implement non-cash operations, to avoid human factor while performing settlement transactions with the population.

Improving the investment and business environment and encouraging direct investments to ensure sustainable national economic development is a priority in our economic policy. Therefore, the heads of the State Committee on Investments and State Property Management, other ministries and agencies, governors of province, town and district are mandated to bolster their activities to attract direct investment, further improve the investment climate and business environment, in particular to introduce electronic systems for submission and review of applications, issuance of licenses, permits and certificates for business activities and eliminate subjective factors in this process.

These agencies need to make sure the businesses are registered through electronic and digital systems fully and ensure operation of service centers for entrepreneurs and investors in towns and districts of the country.

Currently development of digital technologies is a key to economic competitiveness. We are not satisfied with the implementation of the programs endorsed in this area and it is important to undertake necessary actions promoting creation of friendly environment for strengthening of digitalization.

 In order to strengthen the institutional framework of the digital economy, the development of information and communication infrastructure throughout the country, the digitalization of the national economy and the expansion of the "e-government" process, the Government and relevant agencies are mandated to undertake necessary actions for establishment of an agency for innovation and digital technology of the President Office of Tajikistan.

In addition to this, in order to create favorable environment for engagement of citizens to the national economy, I propose to apply amnesty this year for legalization of funds and assets. The Government is mandated to draft and endorse relevant regulations for the implementation of this proposal.

Also, in order to eliminate unauthorized inspections or interference in the activities of investors and entrepreneurs, the State Committee on Investments and State Property Management along with relevant ministries and agencies should develop and submit to the Government relevant legal and regulatory documents at earliest possible.

The Ministry of Finance jointly with other ministries and agencies is mandated to finalize the draft revised Tax Code focusing on facilitation of doing business, in particular, manufacturing, and submit it to the Government by March 2021.

The Government has identified the contribution of the private sector in the "2030 National Development Strategy" as a driver for sustainable economic growth, the main tool for achievement of national goals and thereby creation  of decent living conditions for people.

 In the process of privatization of state property and implementation of individual projects on restructuring of natural monopolies and large state-owned enterprises, up to 90 percent of state assets were transferred to the private sector.

Thanks to the ongoing support by the State and the Government, the private sector has been developing steadily, and currently its share comprises 70% of our GDP, 68% of employment and 80% of the public budget tax revenues.

Currently, 70 public investment projects on development of various socio-economic sectors of the country with the total amount of about TJS 40 billion are under implementation. In 2020 alone, we signed 29 public investment agreements worth 10 billion TJS aimed at improving medical services, construction of education facilities, social protection, rural development, construction and rehabilitation of roads and energy facilities.

Since 2013, the Government has signed 17 direct investment agreements with domestic and foreign companies, which made it possible to establish 15 new manufacturing enterprises for a total amount of more than 10 billion TJS and employ more than 7,000 with permanent jobs.

In this regard, it is important to scale up activities on construction of metallurgical enterprises, ore processing, full cycle of mining and processing of non-ferrous and precious metals, development of machine-building, textile, food and pharmaceutical industries.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

After we attained independence, we completely revised our public policy in the field of industry by focusing on strengthened production and export of end products through the introduction of new technologies, increased use of local raw materials, their full processing and wider use of labor resources. As a result, over the past five years alone, we have produced more than 44 billion TJS worth of import-substituting products, which has significantly reduced the dependence of our domestic market on imported products.

In order to gradually increase the production of competitive industrial products, we have declared the intensive industrialization of the country as our fourth national goal.

In addition, the ministries of industry and new technologies, health and social protection and the State Committee on Investments and State Property Management are mandated to undertake specific and immediate actions to ensure the development of the pharmaceutical industry and training of highly qualified specialists with the skills for the application of the latest pharmaceutical technologies.

Tajikistan has rich mineral and non-mineral resources, such as ferrous, non-ferrous, precious and rare metals, rare and precious stones, coal and other resources, estimated amounting hundreds of billions of Somoni. To date more than 600 mines and 800 deposits containing more than 60 types of mineral and non-mineral raw materials have been discovered and studied in Tajikistan. Currently, only 27% of them are being mined and processed, which is not enough to achieve our fourth strategic goal. Therefore, it is important to strengthen the capacity of the Main Geology Department in the field of geological studies, transition to international standards for minerals management, as well as control of hazardous geological processes and groundwater studies and monitoring.

With a view to developing the mining and other processing industries, the Main Department of Geology jointly with relevant ministries and agencies are mandated to develop and submit to the Government a draft State Program for Geological Development for 2021-2030 based on the analysis of resources and the level of geological studies.

In 1991, only 358 industrial enterprises were registered in the country. In 2020 alone, we established and put into operation 300 new industrial enterprises and workshops creating more than 6,500 jobs. As a result, last year the number of industrial enterprises reached 2.274, and we expect this number to exceed 3.500, or increase by more than 54 percent in the next seven years.

In this regard, the leadership of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, together with other ministries and agencies, governors of province, town and district are mandated to gradually address the challenges in order to continuously implement the activities on accelerated industrialization of the country.

The ministries of economic development and trade, industry and new technologies and education and science need to undertake necessary steps to establish an effective system of training and professional development of specialists at home and abroad, as well as industrial and scientific complexes, including innovation and technology parks. To this end, the number of students and specialists sent to educational institutions abroad for training and professional development every year should be doubled.

During our independence, we implemented 34 public investment projects with the total amount of 57.2 billion TJS to address the issues in the energy sector and ensure its development. At present, 17 other public investment projects worth 16.4 billion TJS are ongoing in this sector.

In this period, more than 2,000 MW of new capacity was put into operation, and the electricity generation increased from 17bn kW/h in 1991 to 21bn kW/h in 2019.

The Government of Tajikistan intends to expand the construction and reconstruction of a number of small and large vital facilities to ensure energy security in the near future and to fully meet the power needs of the population and the national economy.

Currently, activities on the reconstruction of Norak, Sarband and Qairoqqum hydropower plants at a total cost of 11.3 billion TJS, as well as the construction of 500-kv transmission lines and substations within the CASA-1000 project are underway and we started the construction of Sebzor HPP in Roshtqal’a District of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province.

This year, Sarband HPP will be completely reconstructed and put into operation. The project’s cost is over 1.5 billion TJS and the HPP’s capacity will reach 270 megawatts, which is 110 megawatts more than its current capacity.

Additionally, we will start the construction of a 500-kilovolt transmission line from the Roghun HPP to the Sangtuda converter substation increasing our electricity export capacity, and commence modernization activities to reduce power losses and introduce a modern metering system in Dushanbe, Bokhtar, Kulob, Panjakent, Istaravshan, Isfara, Konibodom, Buston and Danghara Districts at the amount of 2.4 billion TJS.

However, there are still a number of important issues to be addressed in the field of sustainable energy supply, including the efficient and rational use of energy. Therefore, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and industrial companies need to work with other relevant ministries and agencies to address the sector's issues, in particular on the counting of generation and consumption, reduce losses, use of energy-efficient devices.

Distinguished Members of Parliament!

In recent years, the road and transport sector has been developing steadily, and as a result, we have achieved one of our strategic goals, i.e. connectivity of our country with other economies of the region.

To this end, over the years of independence, we have implemented 53 public investment projects amounting 20.3 billion TJS  in the transport sector, and built put into operation more than 2,200 km of international roads. The activities implemented in this area made it possible for Tajikistan to improve its position by 20 points in the global road quality ranking of the annual international survey within the Global Competitiveness Report over the past two years and the World Economic Forum ranked Tajikistan as the 50th in its study among 141 countries. In this process, we plan to build and put into operation more than 1,500 km of international roads in the years to come.

Currently, 15 public investment projects with the total amount of 8 billion TJS are under implementation in the transport sector and we expect to complete 4 of these initiatives. Dushanbe-Qizilqala section of the Dushanbe-Bokhtar highway at a cost of 1.6 billion TJS, Kulob-Shamsiddin Shohin and Shkev-Qalaikhumb sections of Kulob-Qalaikhumb highway at a cost of 780 million TJS and Kulob-Muminobod highway at a cost of 350 million TJS will be commissioned within these projects.

This year, we will start the implementation of 10 other public investment projects with the total amount of 8 billion TJS  to construct and renovate transport and communications infrastructure and construct transit corridors.

These projects will construct the roads of Obi Garm-Nurobod, sections of Qalaaikhumb – Vanj in Dushanbe-Kulma highway, Qizilqala-Bokhtar of Dushanbe-Bokhtar, and motorways of Hulbuk-Temurmalik-Kangurt, Bokhtar-Dangara and Khujand-Konibodom, bridges on the Panj river in Kokul area of Farkhor District, and on Ghund river in Khorugh Town, and reconstruct anti-avalanche corridors in Barsem area of ​​Shughnon District. This year, we will finalize the design of Danghara-Guliston and Guliston-Kulob motorways and start their construction in 2022.

In this regard, the ministries of transport, finance and State Committee on Investments and State Property Management have to take necessary actions to ensure high quality and timely implementation of the projects and the use of modern technologies. The Ministry of Transport jointly with other relevant ministries and agencies need to strengthen the transport infrastructure, create transit corridors, ensure access to sea ports and establish border terminals and logistic centers.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

According to the analyses the agricultural production average growth made 7.3 percent annually between 1997-2020 and increased by five times in this period.

The incentives offered to the livestock, poultry and fishery sector gave a serious impetus to the development of these sectors. As a result, in 2020 the number of poultry farms reached 181 and increased by 2.7 times against 2017. In 2020, the production of poultry meat amounted to 31,000 tons and eggs reached almost one billion pieces, which increased by 4.5 and 5.5 times respectively compared to 2017. The last year, the number of fish farms increased by 35%, and fish production increased by 2.3 times compared to 2017.

The meat import to Tajikistan decreased from 10700 tons in 2014 to 180 tons in 2020, or by 60 times. The poultry meat imports in 2020 decreased by more than 3 times compared to 2017. In 2020 the production of grain increased by more than 4.6 times, potatoes 7.7 times, vegetables and melons by 4 times, and fruits by 3 times respectively compared to 1991.

During the independence, 22 public investment projects with the total amount of 5.4 billion TJS were implemented on development of agriculture, including construction and reconstruction of irrigation infrastructure, development of new lands, improvement of land reclamation, the agriculture sector equipment with the necessary machinery, high quality seeds and access of the sector’s players to finance. Currently, 7 other projects amounting 2.4 billion TJS are under implementation.  

As part of the implementation of programs on development of individual sectors, the area of orchards and vineyards in the country has reached more than 200,000 hectares and increased by 2.2 times compared to 1991.

Thus, more than 112,000 hectares of new orchards and vineyards have been created in the country during the independence, which has been significantly contributing to the country's food security, public employment, and growth of export and supply of the food and garment industries with raw materials.

To this end, it is very important to further increase agricultural production and ensure the efficient use of water and arable land, innovative technologies and advanced agricultural machinery and create intensive orchards.

In this regard, the leaders of province, town and district, heads of farm, individual farmers and families need to make sure to effectively use the land resources, primarily household and presidential lands, store and use high quality seed and thereby obtain up to three harvest, especially in 2021. Today we see the results of the conscientious work of farmers and the measures taken by the Government in the abundance of our own products.

Given the current complex situation in the world, we need to make sure to be prepared for any potential challenge and avoid any scarcity and shortage of food products that our population might encounter. To strengthen the public support to farmers and facilitate the abundance of the consumer market, I propose to exempt all farmers in the country from the single land tax for one year, i.e in 2021. The Government should take steps to find additional sources to reimburse this tax.

At the same time, the ministries of agriculture, finance, economic development and trade, the state committees for investment and state property management, as well as land management and geodesy need to undertake strict actions to encourage domestic and foreign investment to develop the sector, establish logistics centers and ensure processing, packaging and export of agricultural products in line with the market requirements and international quality standards.

Nowadays, tourism is a driver for economic growth and fast growing sector in the world. Having recognized the importance of this sector in the national economy, we have identified the development of tourism as one of our priorities and declared the 2019-2021 as the Period of Rural Development, Tourism and Folk Crafts.

The analysis shows that in 2018, for the first time since independence, the number of tourists reached almost 1.2 million, which is 2.6 times more than in 2017. In 2019, tourists comprised 1,26 million of the total number of foreign visitors to Tajikistan. Some 145 newly established travel agencies were licensed during 2018-2020, and a total of 224 companies entered the tourism market in this period.

Thanks to these initiatives and the incentives provided by the Government in this area, the private sector has expanded, the number of hotels and other service infrastructure has increased, and these measures promoted the rural development, especially those located on tourist routes. This process needs to be further scaled up.

In this period, Tajikistan has been included in the top ten most attractive countries for tourists, top ten countries for hiking, top five for simplified visa system, the Pamir Highway was among the top ten amazing beautiful roads in the world and Dushanbe  was among the top 10 safe sites.

However, disregard of these achievements and given the final year of the Period of Rural Development, Tourism and Folk Crafts initiative,  the Committee for Tourism Development and other relevant authorities, including heads of province, town and district are mandated to undertake immediate actions to  increase the share of tourism in our country’s development, address social issues, bring services in line with international standards, explore new ways to create tourism infrastructure, and attract more domestic and foreign tourists, and focus on development of domestic tourism.

Distinguished Members of Parliament!

Addressing social issues has always been at the heart of the policy of the Tajik State and the Government, as the spheres of science, education and health are the core for socio-economic progress. Last year, 157 primary, general secondary, and secondary vocational schools as well as additional classrooms for 63,000 seats were built and put into operation in the country. Overall, 3020 educational facilities with more than 1.3 million seats have been built and put into operation since 1991.

We need to create all the necessary conditions to improve the quality of education at all levels, and undertake necessary actions to make sure the parents, community members and teachers feel higher sense of responsibility.

The new brand institutions such as presidential schools, lyceums and gymnasiums lead in this dimension and every year more than 97% of graduates of these schools get admitted by higher education institutions in the country and abroad. The Ministry of Education and Science needs to widely replicate the initiative and the experience of these schools across the country to improve the education quality.

With a view to further improving the quality of education, based on proposal I made during my Address to the Parliament last year, we declared 2020-2040 as the