Letter to the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank

Letter to the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank

Miraziz Bazarov

Dear Mr. Masatsugu Asakawa!

Dear Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank!


Let me bring your attention to the situation with ADB funding allocated to help Uzbek people to cope with severe pandemic but being absolutely misused by the Uzbek Government. Nowadays, it is very challenging for Uzbek people to organise themselves to make a change for better. Civic space is constantly shrinking in Uzbekistan. Traditional mass media is under state control, which makes social media and the bloggers in the country the only source of credible information. Corruption, excessive bureaucracy, and stifling of public freedoms are still common and rampant. Therefore, we are pleading for your help, sympathy, and ability to influence the situation.


On June 25 2020, ADB approved a $500 million loan (Project | 54160-001) to help the Government of Uzbekistan mitigate the adverse health and economic impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by helping to contain the spread of the virus, support businesses, and expand social safety nets.


The loans from ADB and other international financial institutions helped to set up a $1bln Special Anti-Crisis Fund aiming to support social sphere, economic sectors, the agency for sanitary and epidemiological welfare, the construction of hospitals and their equipment, water supply and irrigation.


However, numerous testimonies in the mass-media and social-media suggest that most of the expenses were probably spent inappropriately. Just recently, there was another news on embezzlement of money by the officials of the Agency for sanitary and epidemiological welfare .[1],[2],[3],[4] Local blogger Umid Gafurov (Troll.uz) said that he received numerous messages from people that patients with confirmed Covid-19 and their relatives were forced to sign the documents of allegedly received treatment at cost of 30-35 million soums (~3,000-3,500 USD).[5] Later, he also wrote that his followers reported a multiple of cases when the local hospitals and ambulances refused to help people with symptoms and to provide coronavirus testing.[6] Numerous comments below the Facebook post confirm this information. Many of them highlighted that they could not reach a local ambulance and receive any medical help neither in case of Covid-19 nor any other emergency.


Another local journalist and blogger Alexey Volosevich (AsiaTerra.info) made an investigation of the construction sector in a time of pandemic and came to the conclusion that a sharp increase in public debt coincided with the emergence of inexhaustible financial resources for many unknown developers. It resulted in the construction of the elite buildings and demolishing of the private houses, including those recognized as architectural monuments, in addition to city parks, green areas, kindergartens, school stadiums and sports grounds. He underlines that most likely those financial resources invested by local high-ranking officials came from the 'cut' of loans.”[7] 


In addition, local blogger Igor Tsoy highlights the issues of inappropriate spending of the money came from from the international financial institutions apart from embezzlement. A significant amount of money allocated under the Special Anti-crisis Fund has been spent not to fight an outbreak of Covid-19 but to “construct schools and kindergartens”.[8]


Thus, there is no mechanism to ensure transparency and public control over the expenditures of the Special Anti-Crisis Fund in Uzbekistan. Local blogger Alisher Taksanov noticed that a recently established Uzbekistan Anti-Corruption Agency has been fully controlled by the Uzbek government, and headed by a “loyal official, but not a civil activist”.[9],[10]


Plenty of information disclosed in mass media and social media shows that the loans issued by ADB became only a catalyst for an extraordinary increase in the level of corruption. In addition, corruption in the construction sector has resulted in numerous cases of unsustainable constructions and increased poverty. Moreover, due to quarantine measures required by the IFIs and imposed by the government of Uzbekistan a significant part of people have been left without any income and funds for subsistence.


Another important issue that ADB should be aware of is safety of the workers at the facilities operated by the ADB’s clients in Uzbekistan. ADB should clearly communicate to its clients the importance of ensuring safety for the workers and protect them from the Covid-19. Unfortunately, the reports suggest that pandemic is not taken seriously by some of the clients. For example, the workers at Karmanagas (a subsidiary of Uzbekneftegaz, the client of the ADB - Project | 52322-001, 52322-002) disclosed information that even basic Covid-related safety requirements have been ignored by the company[11].


Because of the growing dissatisfaction of Uzbek people with increased corruption during the lockdown, the Uzbek government has imposed measures to limit free access to some social media, in particularly Facebook. People are forced to use VPN services as it was during the time of the previous president.


I published an open letter to ADB and IMF at my Facebook page asking to stop issuing any large loans to the government of Uzbekistan, until the mechanisms for public control of spending is established”. Over 1,300 Facebook users supported my stand even despite the problems with Facebook access.[12]


As another $100 million is planned to be approved by the Board of the Bank in August, I ask ADB on behalf of those who shared my open letter:

  1. To halt making loans to the Uzbek Government until the transparent system of spending the ADB funding is established in the country (i.e., public disclosure of the detailed documents on money use);
  2. To conduct an investigation of how the loans issued by ADB for the Covid-19 response have been used, and make the findings publicly available;
  3. To strengthen the ADB’s transparency requirements for public loans and grants in Uzbekistan including the establishment of an effective system of monitoring over the spending, mandatory disclosure of the ADB’s monitoring reports and promotion of the bank’s Accountability Mechanism.
  4. To ensure social support to the most vulnerable groups in Uzbekistan in particularly those who left without any subsistence due to quarantine measures, and provide a clear and transparent matrix for it;
  5. To ensure that existing clients of ADB in Uzbekistan follow the Covid-related safety requirements for the workers and introduce the best available measures to protect the workers;
  6. To request from the Uzbek Government to establish clear anti-corruption mechanisms, including transparency of public tenders, reform of police and prosecutor office.



 Miraziz Bazarov



[1] Theft of funds from the Anti-Crisis Fund revealed in Bukhara [in Russian] - https://www.gazeta.uz/ru/2020/05/22/%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B7/

[2] SES OFFICERS STOLE OVER $ 24 THOUSAND FROM THE STATE. [in Russian] - https://uznews.uz/ru/article/22190

[3] ANOTHER GROUP OF OFFICERS OF THE SES COLLECTED OVER 500 MILLION UZS FROM THE STATE [in Russian] - https://uznews.uz/ru/article/22346

[4] Former head of the Center for Economic Security and Protection of Kashkadarya and other employees are accused of embezzlement of $ 90 thousand - [in Russian] - https://www.gazeta.uz/ru/2020/07/19/qashqadaryo/

[5] APPEAL TO THE SPECIAL COMMISSION TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS IN UZBEKISTAN! [in Russian and Uzbek] - https://www.facebook.com/TrollUZB/posts/1349088731960756?__tn__=K-R

[6] [post in Russian and Uzbek] - https://www.facebook.com/TrollUZB/posts/1350650408471255

[7] SHAVKAT MIRZIYOYEV CONTINUES TO GET LOANS: THE WORLD BANK PROVIDES 500 MILLION DOLLARS, ADB PROMISES TO GIVE ANOTHER 100 MILLION DOLLARS [in Russian]. http://www.asiaterra.info/news/shavkat-mirzijoev-prodolzhaet-nabirat-kredity-vsemirnyj-bank-predostavlyaet-500-millionov-dollarov-abr-obeshchaet-dat-eshche-100-millionov?fbclid=IwAR3wnORQml5YS7SeheoJN6xpZ5Css0mtak8HNi7ZKCpmzLxGAQANCf3Okq4

[8] "Hurry up - you will make people laugh" BUT WHY ARE WE NOT HAPPY? - [in Russian] - https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2825427504357052&id=100006694906473

[9] [post in Russian] - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10221257548680629&set=a.1175178812006&type=3&theater

[10] [post in Russian] - https://www.facebook.com/alisher.taksanov/posts/10221266786471568

[11] Karmangas employee: we have to work with the relatives of the Covid-19 infected people, but our requests for the Covid-19 testing are ignored [in Russian]. Озодлик, 8 July 2020.


[12] OPEN LETTER TO IMF AND ADB [post in Russian] - https://www.facebook.com/mbazarov/posts/3147666611956322

Report Page