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The Times of Central Asia (21 May 2020)



In May 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Business Clinic programme in Uzbekistan with the purpose of providing free legal and business advisory services to small and medium businesses (SMEs) and to individual entrepreneurs both during and after the quarantine. The clinic also serves to deliver complete and sound information about support measures envisaged in decrees of the President of Uzbekistan, UNDP Uzbekistan said.

In March of this year Uzbekistan’s government put in place stringent quarantine measures to prevent COVID-19’s spread. These included restricting vehicle traffic, closing outer and interregional boundaries, suspending attendance at kindergartens, schools and universities, and cancelling public events and meetings.

While placing constraints on the lives of all citizens, these quarantine restrictions have seriously impacted small businesses activities in Uzbekistan, as they have in other countries. For Uzbekistan this is a particular concern, as SMEs make up 57% of the national economy. Reduced remittances from abroad, a severely hampered tourism industry, and challenges in trade and supply chains, have all created problems. Most companies have had to reduce both their production volumes and workforces, which has in turn adversely impacted the national employment rate, and the income generation of citizens.

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