Challenges to Economies in Transition
Stabilization, Growth, and Governance

International conference in honor of the fifth anniversary of the Kyrgyz som
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, May 27–28, 1998

Message from the President

Distinguished conference participants, I am very pleased to welcome you to the International Conference on Problems of Managing Economies in Transition and Prospects for Economic Growth, which is timed to coincide with the five-year anniversary of the introduction in the Kyrgyz Republic of its national currency, the som, and whose purpose is to provide a new stimulus to efforts to consolidate and publicize Kyrgyzstan's status as a sovereign state able to provide for its own development and prosperity in our complex and quickly changing world.

With the achievement of independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan's political and economic life began to undergo a decisive transformation. We have succeeded in demonstrating to the world community that we are a democratic state in which market-oriented reforms are gaining momentum.

Five years ago, in May 1993, an event in the Kyrgyz Republic literally commanded the special attention of the citizens of the Republic as well as of a wide circle of foreign economists, politicians, and ordinary people. This event was the introduction of the som, which, incidentally, was the first of the national currencies of the former Soviet Union countries to be introduced. It represented in our country a decisive step in the acceleration of reforms. Today, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of this event.

At the time of the introduction of the Kyrgyz currency, when the economies of the young sovereign states located in the post-Soviet area were enveloped in a deep crisis, the International Monetary Fund provided invaluable assistance in support of the still-vulnerable som.

Despite the objective difficulties of the transition period, Kyrgyzstan has succeeded in overcoming the crisis and beginning a genuine economic recovery. This is evidenced by steady GDP growth, low inflation, and a decline in the budget deficit and balance of payments deficit over the last two to three years. Our som is a freely convertible currency and is considered one of the most stable currencies in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

During 1998--a decisive year for all citizens of Kyrgyzstan--the Republic should build upon the positive results achieved through persistent effort during the years of implementation of reforms. Work is now under way in the country to realize a second stage of reforms aimed at stabilizing the Republic's emerging economic growth and ensuring the transition to a path of socioeconomic and human development. Toward this end, over the next three years we must do the following:

  • Ensure reliable operation of the fuel and energy sector and guarantee the energy supply to the public and industry.

  • Achieve a recovery in industry, especially in manufacturing, through financial rehabilitation, restructuring, and post-privatization conversion of enterprises.

  • Generate a new wave of entrepreneurship and provide assistance for high-quality growth of small and medium-size business.

  • Concentrate our efforts on resolving problems in the processing and marketing of agricultural goods.

  • Deepen reforms by strengthening market institutions, enhancing the laws that regulate market mechanisms, and raising the public's awareness of the rule of law.

  • Carry out reforms in the social sphere.

  • Further deepen and strengthen financial stability, which is an indispensable precondition for sustainable economic development.

I am convinced that these objectives are achievable and that the people of Kyrgyzstan may face the future with confidence.

In conclusion, I wish to thank all the conference participants for their attendance, and I wholeheartedly wish you success in your work and achievement of your goals.

A. Akaev
President, Kyrgyz Republic

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