Uzbekistan to ease restrictions on moving from provinces to capital

TASHKENT (Reuters) – Uzbekistan will liberalize its domestic migration system which bars provincial dwellers from moving to the capital unless they have already secured a job there, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Friday.

The system inherited from the Soviet era in effect barred those living in the provinces from seeking jobs in Tashkent, with the result that many people have chosen to find employment abroad instead.

“We have kept our people shackled for 30 years, it’s true,” Mirziyoyev said in his annual address to parliament.

Tashkent, which is undergoing a construction boom and offers higher wages compared with the provinces, has a population of 2.5 million, and more than 30 million Uzbeks live elsewhere in the Central Asian country.

Unemployment is one of the biggest concerns for Mirziyoyev’s government which has been implementing a series of economic reforms over the last three years that have increased demand for labor in the capital.

In another move aimed at reducing unemployment, Uzbekistan plans to train a million people in software programming skills, Mirziyoyev said on Friday.

(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, Editing by William Maclean)