16:53 / 27.05.2024

State agencies and organizations in Uzbekistan spent billions on mobile devices despite national budget deficit

Despite the Prime Minister's instructions to halt asset purchases, it was revealed that last year, Uzbekistan's state organizations spent over 6.6 billion UZS on acquiring more than 3,400 smartphones, including the latest and most expensive iPhone 15 Pro Max models. This spending took place in a year when the state budget deficit significantly increased, covered particularly by external debts.

In 2023, state organizations executed 289 transactions totaling 6 billion 637.8 million UZS for the purchase of 3,402 costly smartphones, according to an analytical report by the Treasury Service Committee under the Ministry of Economy and Finance (a copy of which is available at Kun.uz).

The Committee notes that these expenditures occurred contrary to the Prime Minister's directive of January 5, 2023, which stated that until the approval of a limited organizational structure (institution), the main asset purchases related to ministries and agencies should be temporarily suspended, whether funded by the budget or extra-budgetary funds.

Nonetheless, the figures show that last year, state organizations ordered an average of 12 smartphones per purchase.

Investigations by the Committee revealed the following expenditures:

- In the Republic of Karakalpakstan, for 796 mobile devices, 1.483,3 million UZS were spent across 62 cases;
- In Jizzakh region, 658 mobile devices cost 948.9 million UZS in 27 cases;
- In the Fergana region, 519 mobile devices led to expenses of 581.9 million UZS across 30 cases.

"For example, the administration of the Sarasiyo district in Surkhandarya region concluded a contract for 72 million UZS from the reserve fund with the private enterprise 'Bahrulloi Rustam Chorvador' for the purchase of 4 expensive smartphones (iPhone 13 Pro Max), and the payment was made. Moreover, Jizzakh State Pedagogical Institute made a payment of 19.1 million UZS through an electronic trading platform for a contract with the private enterprise 'Odilov Abdulhamid ugli' for the purchase of iPhone 15 Pro Max," the Treasury's findings reveal.

In the past period of 2024, local budgets were used to execute 60 procurement cases for 301 mobile communication devices, resulting in contracts worth a total of 1.362,2 billion UZS with completed payments.

Specifically, in the Fergana region, 566.1 million UZS were spent on 146 various mobile devices across 10 cases, in the Tashkent region, 193.1 million UZS for 72 devices across 7 cases, and in the Andijan region, 255 million UZS for 14 devices in 2 cases. For instance, in Andijan's Oltinkul district, the local government signed an 18.5 million UZS contract with "Omad-imkon 21" LLC for purchasing an iPhone 15 Pro.

The Treasury Committee presented its audit results to Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Economy and Finance Jamshid Kuchkarov, with a proposal that the Financial Control Inspection should investigate the situation.

Previously, it was reported that the prosecutor's office in the Samarkand region had purchased 22 iPhone 14 Pro Max models for 445 million UZS, and the Tashkent regional branch of the Republic's Center for Spirituality and Enlightenment acquired two iPhone 15 Pro Max models for 51 million UZS.

As a reminder, last year the consolidated budget deficit of the Republic of Uzbekistan nearly doubled the permitted amount, reaching 5.5% of GDP. The amount of external debt acquired over the year also exceeded the plan by $1 billion, totaling $5.5 billion.

Last week, the Uzbek government issued another batch of sovereign bonds worth $1.5 billion. According to the State Statistics Committee, the volume of foreign credits obtained under state guarantee in the first quarter of the year increased by 2.7 times.

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