Wednesday, April 11, 2012 -
Uzbekistan unveiled new tax breaks and legal protections Wednesday in an effort to improve its image and lure foreign ventures to the repressive country.
According to a presidential decree, foreign firms with investments exceeding $5 million will be excluded from any amendments to tax laws for 10 years.
The ruling signed by President Islam Karimov also directed the country’s judges to protect international companies from unscrupulous law enforcement bodies in disputes they are asked to adjudicate.
Uzbek state authorities close to the ruling family have been accused by numerous foreign investors of harassment and seizure of their assets.
In one of the latest high-profile cases, Oxus Gold accused Uzbekistan of trying to force it into liquidation to take its share of the Amantaytau gold mine, located in the mineral rich Tien Shan gold belt.
An Uzbek court jailed a former manager of Oxus on espionage charges during the dispute, while state authorities promised to pay a fair price for the firm’s shares they confiscated.
The miner has since launched an international arbitration case against the government.
Karimov’s decree, published on the Uzbek foreign ministry web site, attributed the unstable global economy as the reason the government is seeking ways to upgrade its industrial sector.
The tightly controlled republic has been governed along Soviet-style command lines since its independence in 1991.