A Kyrgyz opposition leader has suggested the country cultivate opium in order to prompt foreign creditor nations to provide debt relief.
The plan was put forward on Wednesday by Azimbek Beknazarov, leader of the Asaba National Renewal Party, who pointed to Afghanistan as an example of how the trade could be used to win concessions from the West.
"This year Afghanistan announced almost officially that it will increase opium crops. We have to do the same and permit our people to plant opium for a year or two. After that, all the international organisations will be alarmed and will offer to cover our country's debts," Beknazarov said.
"To solve this problem [of foreign debt] we need unordinary steps. I know that my suggestion will stir a heated debate," he said.
Foreign public debt in Kyrgyzstan equals about $2 billion, or 72 per cent of GDP, according to recent figures from the International Monetary Fund.
Beknazarov pointed out that Kyrgyzstan had had a tradition of opium production, including in Soviet times.
Production of the raw product reached 16 per cent of the world total during the 1950s before, authorities put a stop to it in 1973.