SEEKING PEOPLE'S ADVICE
One year ago, the meeting of the Council of Elders passed a decision to establish the people's representative body - Khalk Maslakhaty (People's Council). The first meeting of Khalk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan chaired by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was held on 25 September 2018.
The Khalk Maslakhaty meeting brought together the elected members of Khalk Maslakhaty, heads of public authorities, political parties and public associations, members of the Mejlis (parliament), heads of the regional, city and district administrations, the diplomatic corps of the country, honorable elders, representatives of all strata of the society, as well as invited guests.
The national forum was a landmark event in the life of the country. It discussed the priorities of the further comprehensive development of the Turkmen state and society as well as the pace of implementation of progressive reforms that primarily aim at ensuring prosperous life of the people and laying a solid foundation for the country's well-being in the long term.
Addressing the meeting, the President of Turkmenistan noted with satisfaction the great importance of independence in the history of the Turkmen people and the international community's support to the permanent neutral status of Turkmenistan. He stressed that Turkmenistan has become a reliable partner and a coordinating center over the years of independence, serving as a guarantor of transparency and security in Central Asia.
In the historically short period, the Turkmen people has proved to be a peace-loving, friendly nation that is able to build and create. Expressing his heartfelt gratitude to all the people, especially honorable elders for supporting the domestic and foreign policies and active contribution to enhancing prosperity of the Motherland, the head of state stressed that the nation was writing the triumphal pages of the new history of the homeland, where the ancient caravan routes ran in the past.
Huge investments, including foreign ones, were attracted for the diversification of the economy and improvement of the entire infrastructure of the country. President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov noted the importance of creating a solid basis for the sound economic development. Over 27 years of independence, major investments in the country's economy have grown more than 350 times, up to about 500 billion manat or 185 billion US dollars. Of them, 68 percent were channeled into the manufacturing sector, making it possible to build over 2600 industrial, technical and socio-cultural facilities.
As a result, there is now a diversified economy, including such areas as electric power engineering, oil and gas industry, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, chemical industry, construction, electronic, light and food industries and others.
Focusing on the future plans, the President of Turkmenistan noted that despite the continuing negative crisis consequences in the world and difficult financial and economic conditions the country's gross domestic product would grow at the level of 6.2 percent this and next year.
The mutually beneficial foreign trade and economic relations are facilitated by the intensification of work of bilateral governmental commissions, holding of trade forums and exhibitions and opening of trade houses in dozens of countries.
Development of medium and small size businesses is ongoing in Turkmenistan. According to the head of state, the share of the private sector in the country's GDP reached 68 percent, excluding the fuel and energy complex. Members of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs make a worthy contribution to ensuring the commodity abundance in the domestic market, diversifying the economy and strengthening the export potential of Turkmenistan.
In his speech, the Turkmen leader noted the important tasks of the state policy and the need to make improvements in the fuel and energy sector, namely the oil and gas and petrochemical industries. The investment projects carried out in recent years such as the construction of new gas pipelines to China and Iran and the gas pipeline Turkmenistan - Afghanistan - Pakistan - India have been seen as the Turkmen state's contribution to development of the international energy partnership. This, in turn, has had a positive impact on the overall situation and progress in the Central Asian region, turning it into one of the energy centers of international importance, the President of Turkmenistan said.
Turkmenistan is successfully implementing national programs to upgrade the material and technical base of the transport industry, diversify the existing and create new networks in the transport and communication sector. Turkmenistan's favorable geographical location provides opportunities to establish large-scale logistics hubs for the combined multimodal transportation.
In this context, the head of state noted the importance of the Kazakhstan - Turkmenistan - Iran railway, as well as creating the combined road, rail and sea links between the CIS countries and Central Asia that will open up more opportunities for both Turkmenistan and neighboring countries. Commissioning of a multimodal modern port in the city of Turkmenbashi helped to increase several times the transit traffic through the country and its export potential, the leader of the nation said.
As the head of state noted, it would be expedient to transfer ownership of agricultural lands from unprofitable farmer associations with extremely low production rates to agricultural producers who can do better in farming. To this end, in accordance with the legislation, the head of state proposed to set up a special land fund for allocation of land to farmers for a period of 99 years based on decisions by a special committee.
Speaking about improving the work in the agro-industrial complex under the leadership of the national leader, the forum participants noted the ongoing work on improving the agricultural practices, scientifically based regulation of sowing and introduction of new technologies that are important in the current period of transition to the market economy.
In this regard, the President of Turkmenistan expressed confidence that implementation of a document on these issues would produce good results. Noting its great importance, the President of Turkmenistan, Chairman of Khalk Maslakhaty signed the Resolution "On the Further Improvement of Reforms in the Agricultural Sector."
The UN recognizes Turkmenistan as a state with a developed economy. The consistent increase in salaries and profits in the years of independence is an illustrative example of ensuring social security and protection and raising the standard of living of the people by the state. In turn, this is evidence of strengthening the rights and responsibilities of people, the result of the implementation of the policy "State is for People!" In this regard, following the approval of the national forum, the leader of Turkmenistan signed the Resolution "On Streamlining the Provision of Turkmenistan's Population with Electricity, Gas, Drinking Water and Table Salt" as well as on streamlining payment of housing and communal services. In his speech, the President of Turkmenistan also noted that the most important task was to ensure social protection of the population by increasing salaries, pensions and scholarships (at the level of at least 10 percent per year), pointing out that expenditures on the social sphere should be at least 75-80 percent of the total expenditures of the State budget. He also emphasized the importance of adopting measures on maternity and childcare.
The President of Turkmenistan also spoke about issues related to the protection and promotion of cultural heritage, development of health care and improvement of education and science work. Modern clinics and research-clinical centers have been built in all the regions of the country and the capital city. Health and medical institutions have been reconstructed. The Cardiology Center, the Mother and Child Clinical Research Center, the Centers for Neurology, Morphology and Prevention of Infectious Diseases, Public Health and Nutrition, the International Educational and Research Center, the International Center for Surgery and Endocrinology have been built in recent years. There have been also put into operation a children's hospital in the city of Mary, a multi-disciplinary hospital in the city of Turkmenabat, sanatorium "Avaza" in the city of Turkmenbashi and ambulance centers in the provinces of the country.
Turkmenistan shows an example of active international sports cooperation. In this regard, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov expressed strong confidence that representatives of the national team will successfully perform at the Asian Games and the Summer Olympics in the future, taking advantage of the solid sports base and support of the people.
In conclusion, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov proposed to convene a regular meeting of Khalk Maslakhaty in Ashgabat on 25 September 2019 and signed a resolution to this effect.