Despite government pledges that in 2000 the sum would be convertible (freely exchangeable for foreign currencies at market rates), Uzbekistan continued to operate a system of administratively-set multiple exchange rates in 2001. These were used to protect import substitution industrialization, including a set commercial bank rate and an administratively set commercial exchange rate, which kept the sum at around 50 percent of the commercial bank rate. The black market is widely used. In December 2000 President Karimov said that convertibility would take 3 to 5 years, but he was pushed to take action when a default on the country's external debt was imminent because of a threatened halt to IMF funding. Uzbekistan is plagued by a hard currency shortage and has serious problems with servicing its debt. It was scheduled to make US$900 million of repayments in 2000.
The Tashkent Stock Exchange is 26 percent government-owned, and most of the stocks in companies that are listed are owned by the employees of those companies. Trade at the Tashkent Stock Exchange is predominantly conducted through treasury bills because they are considered a liquid and safe asset, despite the fact that yields are negative and the market is extremely small.