In a small office on the second floor of the Kyrgyzstan Stock Exchange, a lone administrator checked the time and looked up from the computer: “Two o’clock. No applications received. Auction for sale of Zalkar Bank is declared invalid.”
With that, on November 14, for the third time in a month, Bishkek’s attempts to privatize a major company failed. As it tries to rid itself of companies it acquired in the wake of ex-President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s April 2010 ouster, the faltering program is raising doubts about the government’s ability to attract investment and formulate a viable economic policy.
After Bakiyev and family members fled, Kyrgyzstan’s interim government moved quickly to nationalize properties the Bakiyevs had acquired with misappropriated government funds. Yachts, luxury cars, and resort properties were seized along with a hydropower plant, almost half of the country’s largest mobile phone provider, and the nation’s leading bank.
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Nate Schenkkan is a Bishkek-based journalist.