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Kazakhstan Aims To Join Top 30 Most Developed

Astana of Kazahstan modern capital (Youtube photo for education only)

People of Kazahstan (Travel photo for education only)

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan-A.-Nazarbayev (Photo courtesy diplomatic source for education only)

Astana of Kazahstan modern capital (Youtube photo for education only)

Astana of Kazakhstan modern capital (Youtube photo for education only)

By Santo D. Banerjee – NEW YORK - As Kazakhstan celebrates 25 years of its founding in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian country can justly claim to have established itself as a haven of stability and prosperity with its economy having grown ten-fold.

To ensure continuing on the path of economic, political and social stability, Kazakhstan has embarked on “100 Concrete Steps to Implement Five Institutional Reforms”, which President Nursultan Nazarbayev, ‘the father of the nation’, announced in May 2015.

Implementation of the Steps is supervised by the National Modernisation Commission under the President. It consists of five working groups, members of which include local and foreign experts. The commission has an International Advisory Council responsible not only for providing recommendations but also “performing an independent systematised monitoring of results in implementation of the reforms”.

 100 steps to the top

The document is intended not only to give the country a clear sense of

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan-A.-Nazarbayev (Photo courtesy  diplomatic source for education only)

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan-A.-Nazarbayev (Photo courtesy diplomatic source for education only)

direction but also as a checklist by the international community.

“One hundred concrete steps are a response to global and local challenges and, at the same time, it is a plan for the nation to join the top 30 most-developed countries in the new historical conditions.

“One hundred concrete steps will give Kazakhstan a margin of safety that will help the country through a difficult period, implement the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and strengthen Kazakh statehood. The plan lays out radical changes in society and the state, the main goal of which is treatment of systemic diseases, not just smoothing their exterior symptoms,” outlines the preamble to the document.

Five reforms

100 concrete steps are grouped under five institutional reforms, the first of which aims at formation of a modern, professional and independent public service that ensures high-quality implementation of economic programs. Talented candidates will be recruited from the private sector. It allows for appointing foreign citizens to positions within the government, a practice better known in the post-Soviet realm in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

The second reform involves the transition from the five-level justice system (first, appeal, cassation, supervising and re-supervising) to a three-level (first, appeal and cassation) system. The aim is to strengthen foreign and domestic investors’ trust in Kazakhstan’s judicial system. The measures include toughening qualification criteria for the recruitment of judges by introducing a new requirement for a candidate to serve at least five years within the court system and a one-year trial period for newly-appointed judges, improving the public image of police in order to increase the level of citizens’ trust and cut corruption.

As part of the third reform, the government is eager to attract strategic investors to the country’s agricultural sector that is lagging behind the industrial and services branches of economy. Beyond that, one of the measures stipulates that the tax and customs systems will be integrated. This would open doors to an importer to transport commodities into Kazakhstan before selling them.

The document also stresses the need for strengthening the institution of a “business ombudsman,” a kind of prosecutor on behalf of entrepreneurs. Implementation of those tasks will boost economic growth and diversify industry.

A “multi-modal Eurasian transcontinental transport corridor” is also to be established. It would facilitate quicker delivery of goods between Asia and Europe via Kazakhstan. Among similar measures, construction of a new airport to service the growing needs of Almaty is also planned.

Common future

Two more steps envisage establishing the Astana International Financial

People of Kazahstan (Travel photo for education only)

People of Kazakhstan (Travel photo for education only)

Centre (AIFC) with a status that may require introducing amendments of the nation’s Constitution. Those maybe justified by a need to introduce a separate judicial system in the AIFC, based largely on the English law and the use of English as “an official language” of the centre, along with Kazakh and Russian.

The design of the centre, similar to one in Dubai, is expected to turn Astana into a major “financial hub for the [Commonwealth of Independent States] CIS countries and West Asia.” The centre would focus particularly on “servicing capital markets and Islamic finances” with a goal to becoming one of the 20 leading financial centres of the world. AIFC will use the facilities constructed for EXPO 2017.

On the social side, one of the steps requires the “introduction of mandatory medical insurance” with a “solidary responsibility of state, employers and employees”.

The main aspect of the fourth reform concerning issues of “Identity and Unity,” is shaping a “Nation of Common Future” by nurturing a viable middle class as the backbone of a successful nation, which is achieved by sustaining the genuine rule of law and modern and valid political, economic and civil institutions in the society. According to the document, the ideology of Mangilik El (The Eternal Nation) would serve as a system of common civic values.

The fifth reform involves “creation of an accountable government”. From now on, the heads of public bodies will report annually to the general public on the achievements of their agencies.

This will include a concept of “open government” (elaboration of a new law on unhindered access to public information with an exclusion for classified materials), budget and consolidated financial statements, the results of an external financial audit, evaluation of the effectiveness of public policy, public assessment of the results of the quality of public services, online statistical reports from the state agencies and reports on the execution of the national and local budgets.

Further development of an e-government concept that has been successfully implemented in Kazakhstan is included in a proposal as reflected in the last of the 100 steps. It envisages establishing a State Corporation of Government for Citizens that would serve as a single provider of public services. The arrangement would be modelled on ‘Service Canada’ and Australia’s ‘Centrelink’.

 

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