- Total external debt: $1 billion (World Bank, 2005)
- Total external debt payments: $79 million (WB, 2005).
- Population: 6.5 million (WB, 2005)
- Percentage of adults who can read and write: 99.5% (UN HDR, 2005)
- Average life expectancy: 66.3 years (UN HDR, 2005)
- HIV prevalence: 0.1% (UN, HDR 05)
- Total health spending: 1.0% of GDP (UN, HDR 04)
- Total spending on debt service payments: 3.43% of GDP
- Annual GDP: $2.3 billion (UN, HDR 2005)
DROP THE DEBT FAST
Tajikistan is the focus of the Drop the Debt Fast on Friday 2 May.
Recent Political History
In 1918, Northen Tajikistan was conquered by the Bolsheviks, who then extended control over the rest of the country in 1920 when Bukhara was captured. Despite resistance among the people, Tajikistan became a full Soviet Socialist Republic in 1929.
In the late Soviet period, Tajikistan was one of the poorest and least developed of the Soviet States. It was made up of 4 regions, all of which competed for power. In the area furthest South, where the influence of Islam was strong, there was unrest and desire for the establishment of an independent state.
Tajikistan’s independence was finally declared in 1991, with bitterly contested elections being fought that year. The Soviet-backed former President Nabiyev resumed the Presidency but the civil unrest continued, until he was finally forced to resign. Throughout the early 1990s, the country continued to be very unsettled, with violent disputes ensuing between groups vying for power. A cease-fire was eventually agreed in 1994, monitored by the UN. Following this, elections were held, although the election process was extremely flawed. More clashes ensued and a final cease-fire was agreed again in 1997, by which time over 100,000 people had been killed. In recent years, although the politics of the country is far from stable, there have been improvements, with opposition parties being legalised and participating in elections.
Where has the debt come from?
Tajikistan accumulated its debt during the 1990s due to huge economic difficulties the country faced whilst adjusting to its independence from the Soviet Union. Having relied heavily economically and politically on the central Soviet administration, the collapse of this administration and the transition period were very costly to the country. Moreover, the long and drawn-out civil war also drained Tajikistan of resources and made it reliant on foreign debt. Furthermore, much of the debt was offered on a short-term basis, meaning that the debt service obligations have been large.
Debt cancellation status
Tajikistan is officially classed as a low-income country by the World Bank. It is considered to have a 'sustainable' debt: this is measured by the size of external debt in comparison to the value of exports, without taking into account domestic debt or what Tajikistan needs to spend on tackling poverty. It is therefore not eligible for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative or the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Under IMF rules, however, it has received debt cancellation from the IMF. It is theoretically eligible for additional debt assistance from the UK, but has not met the conditions required to qualify.
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Last updated: April 2008