7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are active in travel, automotive/ground transportation, energy, mining, metal manufacturing/products, food processing/packaging, agriculture, construction, building and heavy equipment, services, finance, and information and communication sectors. The government divested itself of smaller SOEs in successive waves of privatization, but retained ownership of the largest Soviet-era enterprises and any sector deemed to be a natural monopoly.
The government appoints directors and boards to SOEs, but there are no clear governance and internal control procedures. Tajik SOEs do not adhere to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs. Tajik government fully controls SOEs. When SOEs are involved in investment disputes, it is highly likely that the domestic courts will find in the SOE’s favor. Court processes are generally non-transparent and discriminatory.
The Committee for Investments and State Property Management maintains a database of all SOEs in Tajikistan, but does not make this information publicly available.
Major SOEs include:
- Travel: Tajik Air, Dushanbe International Airport, Kulob Airport, Qurghonteppa Airport, Khujand Airport, and Tajik Air Navigation;
- Automotive & Ground Transportation: Tajik Railways;
- Energy & Mining: Barqi Tojik, TajikTransGas, Oil, Gas, and Coal, and VostokRedMet;
- Metal Manufacturing & Products: Tajik Aluminum Holding Company (TALCO), and several TALCO subsidiary companies
- Agricultural, Construction, Building & Heavy Equipment: Tajik Cement; Food Processing & Packaging: Konservniy Combinat Isfara;
- Services: Dushanbe Water and Sewer, Vodokanal Khujand, and ZhKX (water utility company);
- Finance: AmonatBonk (state savings bank), TajikSarmoyaguzor (state investments), TajikSugurta (state insurance);
- Information and Communication: Tajik Telecom, Tajik Postal Service, and TeleRadioCom
In sectors that are open to private sector and foreign competition, SOEs receive a larger percentage of government contracts/business than their private sector competitors. As a general rule, private companies cannot compete successfully with SOEs unless they have good government connections.
SOEs purchase goods and services from, and supply them to, private sector and foreign firms through the Tajik government’s tender process. Tajikistan has undertaken a commitment, as part of its WTO accession protocol, to initiate accession to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). At present, however, GPA does not cover Tajik SOEs.
Per government policy, private enterprises cannot compete with SOEs under the same terms and conditions with respect to market share (since the government continually increases the role and number of SOEs in any market), products/services, and incentives. Private enterprises do not have the same access to financing as SOEs. Most lending from state-owned banks is politically directed.
Local tax law makes SOEs subject to the same tax burden and tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors, but the Tajik government favors SOEs and regularly writes off tax arrears for SOEs.
The Tajik government conducted privatization on an ad-hoc basis in the 1990s, and then again in the early 2000s. The government plans to split national electrical utility Barqi-Tojik into three public/private partnerships, responsible for generation, transmission, and distribution, by the end of 2020, but progress has been slow.
Foreign investors are able to participate in Tajikistan’s privatization programs.
There is a public bidding process, but the privatization process is not transparent. Privatized properties have been subject to re-nationalization, often because Tajik authorities claim on illegal privatization process.