A delegation from Kazakhstan reported on the country’s progress in combatting corruption at a recent meeting of the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ACN) in Paris, The Astana Times reports. The ACN, a regional programme established under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), provides a forum for discussing anti-corruption activities and best practices.
Alik Shpekbayev, deputy chair of Kazakhstan’s Agency for Civil Service and Anti-Corruption, discussed the country’s efforts so far through the ACN’s subregional peer review programme.
“Speaking of the country’s programme, since 2015, 20 activities were carried out, 13 of them being comprehensive overviews,” he said in an interview to The Astana Times. “We are working actively on the implementation of the Integrity Scan recommendations.”
Kazakhstan is building a state modelled on countries that are most successful in preventing corruption, Shpekbayev explained. “Large scale economic, social and political reforms have been carried out. We have started what is known as the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan. The first prerequisite of modernisation is the establishment of an open and accountable government. In this regard, we have adopted the Law on Access to Information and created an Open Government electronic platform consisting of five open data portals. Thanks to them, every citizen can see the budgetary expenses, participate in discussing law drafts, get online consultations and file online complaints, as well as assess the effectiveness of government authorities, without leaving his or her home. Currently, the government is working on enhancing and optimising the functioning of the mentioned portals on the basis of feedback from the people.”
The principles of customer-orientation, transparency and accessibility guide today’s interactions between government and citizens, he said. “Currently, more than 60 percent of public services are rendered in an electronic format. During the first half of this year, 47 percent of services were rendered in electronic format. All the licenses and permits are issued for businesspeople in electronic format only. Twenty-four percent of services are rendered through one stop shops via the Government for Citizens state corporation. These measures allowed the reduction of the level of everyday corruption by two thirds. In the coming years, we are planning for 80 percent of public services to be transferred to electronic format; the rest will be delivered through one stop shops.”
According to The Astana Times, after taking these measures, Kazakhstan has reached a leading position in the electronic government development index among Southeast Asian countries, and to reach 33rd place among 174 countries according to the UN index.
“Since the adoption of the Law on Public Councils, heads of government authorities have to publicly report to the citizens,” Shpekbayev continued. “More than 200 public councils are functioning on a regular basis. Every government authority has to submit the drafts of the legislation it is preparing for the review of the public council and has to consider the suggestions.”
Kazakhstan’s Third Modernisation programme is a crucial part of its anti-corruption work. The next stage of the modernisation is redistributing government powers. “Thirty-five functions of the President have been transferred, thus strengthening the role of the Parliament and the autonomy of the government,” he said. “For instance, starting next year we are introducing the fourth level of the budget. Local budgets will be adopted only after they are discussed with the public. Thus, the budget will be planned taking into account the needs and interests of the citizens of every region.”
The government must be committed to reform for the programme to work. “During the epoch of the Soviet planned economy, the state controlled everything,” Shpekbayev noted. “During the independence years, we have reduced the control functions by half. This work continues. Currently, in the framework of Kazakhstan’s modernisation, we are conducting a comprehensive overview of controlling and supervisory functions of government authorities. There are plans to reduce more than 40 percent of supervisory functions and part of the state functions will be transferred to a competitive environment.”