The national programme, “Year of Welfare and Prosperity”, for 2013, which was announced recently by the Government of Uzbekistan, serves as a roadmap for some of the most important sectors of development. Investment in human capital is a major factor for sustainable economic development and betterment of masses. This year’s programme envisages the enhancement of nurturing physically and spiritually healthy and advanced younger generation. Proper attention will be paid to enhancing professionalism in academics and staffers, and strengthening the logistical base of educational institutions. For instance, it is expected to renovate 164 schools, 159 academic lyceums and vocational colleges, and build and reconstruct 55 music and art schools, 116 children's sports facilities and 45 facilities of higher education system. Next, the government will improve the healthcare institutions, provide them with up-to-date diagnostic and treatment equipment, intensify preventive measures and introduce advanced medical technologies. The strengthening of reproductive health and children’s health is accentuated as previously. The programme envisages the building of 32 new rural health units in remote areas, besides establishing and reconstructing 54 medical associations. It also plans to reconstruct several national specialised medical research centres, 11 regional multidisciplinary medical centres and other healthcare institutions. All of them, as well as 13 regional multidisciplinary children's medical centres, will be equipped with modern diagnostic and treatment equipment. Further, the development of local community as a citizens’ self-government body is increasingly accentuated in Uzbekistan. The 2013 programme stipulates a range of important measures on the enhancement of this institution. The list of tasks includes improving the image of mahalla; repairing the rooftops of houses, streets and sidewalks; constructing sports grounds and developing outdoor lighting networks with energy-efficient technologies. All of these activities will be carried out on the architectural and planning design schemes, Zamonaviy Mahalla (modern local community).Side by side, the government will continue to strengthen the family system. This will be done by, enhancing the role and status of women in family and society. Their social capacity will be improved by providing them jobs and other financial support in their undertakings. More so, commercial banks of Uzbekistan will allocate 269.6 billion soums loans for the development of activities of small and private businesses in the country in 2013 - 1.3 times more than last year. This includes 110.1 billion soums for the development of family and private businesses, and 106 billion soums for farmers to organise crop production and purchase cattle. More than 15,000 college and high schools graduates will receive loans of a total of 53.5 billion soums to establish their own businesses.The drafting and implementation of regional programmes for the development of industry are of priority importance. Regional programmes will aim to strengthen industrial cooperation between enterprises of the regions.A corporate procurement and purchasing system is an important form of stimulating small businesses. In 2013, the number of actors involved in this sphere is estimated to increase by 1.3 times. In particular, a mechanism of corporate purchasing and procurement for 2,086 large enterprises with the state share in the share capital will be introduced, with the share of small business in the total amount of their purchases to reach 25 percent.In addition, 850 small industrial enterprises will sell their products in accordance with the contracts signed during the Industrial Fair and Cooperation Exchange, which is a 36 percent increase compared with 2012 sales volumes of small enterprises by such contracts.Also, the development of small businesses in agriculture, improving the efficiency of farming and the introduction of advanced technologies in horticulture will play an important role in providing employment and growth in rural incomes.The programme pays special attention to implement measures to increase the production and processing of agricultural and food products; development of viticulture, livestock and sericulture; and modernisation and technical re-equipment of agriculture in the regions with the expansion of lending by commercial banks to this sector.It envisages the establishment of at least 10 new poultry farms for 10,000 birds and 500 bee colonies in each rural district, at least 30-40 fish farms in each region and at least 10-15 sericulture complexes at the enterprises of the “Uzpahtasanoat” association. The implementation of these measures will allow production of additional 32,000 tons of poultry meat, 330 million eggs, 970 tons of honey and 2.4 thousand tons of fish. Two hundred and eighty eight projects worth over 94.5 billion soums for the construction of new plants, and reconstruction and modernisation of existing ones will be implemented to support deep reprocessing agricultural production, including milk, meat, vegetables and fruits.The holding of industrial fairs will help entrepreneurs to enter into contracts for the supply of modern processing mini-technologies and compact equipment for domestic production. The concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country emphasises the need for broad use of modern information and communication technologies in public and social life, as well as the accelerated implementation of organisational and legal measures, to ensure the ongoing development of the national information space. The Association of IT Enterprises and Organisations of Uzbekistan exists in the country, which also established the ‘Competence Centre’ for electronic governance, providing IT companies the opportunity to promote their products and services in the field of e-governance free of charge and undertaking targeted research.The programme intends to support G2G (government to government), G2B (government to business) and G2C (government to citizens) e-governance systems. The project includes the creation of a single portal of interactive government services on the internet, operating on the “single window” principle. Online registration services for small businesses and private entrepreneurship will also be made available. In 2013, the development of optical networks, FTTx, will continue.In order to carry out social projects, the programme provides for the counselling, legal and organisational assistance to needy families, small businesses and private entrepreneurship.As a final word, the effective implementation of the "Year of the welfare and prosperity" programme is an important step by the Government of Uzbekistan to improve the people’s lives and ensure the country’s prosperity. 

The writer is an Uzbek social activist and freelance columnist currently based in Pakistan.