On 18 July 2023, in the framework of the EU-funded Central Asia Invest programme, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) organised a workshop to assess recent progress in improving the legal environment for business in Tajikistan. This follows a study that the OECD conducted in 2019-2020 on Improving the Legal Environment for Business and Investment in Central Asia. The event was held in co-operation with the Government of Tajikistan and the European Union.
During the seminar, the OECD team presented its preliminary findings on progress made in the legal environment for business in Tajikistan, answered participants’ questions and received their comments on the OECD assessment of three priority areas of reform identified in the 2020 report: the legal and regulatory framework for investment, contract enforcement, and taxation.
Ms Karine Olislagers, Attachée, Programme Manager for Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan, opened the seminar and highlighted the timeliness of the OECD work assessing progress made in the business environment. Amidst mounting uncertainty, increasing economies’ resilience appears critical to foster investment attractiveness and support private sector development.
Ms Kodir Khursedai, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Investments and State Property Management also provided opening remarks and highlighted the government’s recent initiatives to improve Tajikistan’s investment attractiveness, including the role of the Consultative Council on the Improvement of the Investment Climate and Tajikistan’s ongoing negotiations with the EU for a new Enhanced Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement.
Mr Ayubdjon Solekhzoda, First Deputy Chairman of the Tax Committee, thanked the OECD for the cooperation and explained the purpose of the adoption of the new version of the Tax Code, which came into force in January 2022. He highlighted the new provisions of the Tax Code, which includes the creation of a council for the pre-trial settlement of tax disputes, the use of electronic fiscal receipts and virtual cash registers, and the creation of a tax commission for tax avoidance, among others. He then provided an overview of the Tax Committee’s digitalisation strategy.
Ms Céleste Laporte Talamon, Policy Analyst at the OECD, then presented the preliminary findings of progress made in the legal environment for business in Tajikistan along the three priority areas for reforms identified in the first report: the investment framework, contract enforcement and taxation. Among positive developments, she mentioned a reduced tax burden on firms with the introduction of the new code, and efforts to improve access to information on the activities of the court and improve the openness of judicial proceedings. In relation with contract enforcement, the OECD recommended to include the strengthening of dispute resolution mechanisms and judiciary independence and introduce simplifications in the arbitral process. As for fiscal policy, it was recommended to the tax authorities to review the issue of delayed VAT refunds, mentioned as a significant challenge by firms.
Participants were encouraged to share their inputs on the OECD’s preliminary findings ahead of publication of the final report in December 2023, at the OECD’s regular ministerial event for the region, OECD Eurasia Week, in Paris, France.