Reforms in Kazakhstan: Implementations & Achievements (Part-II)

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Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Ours is the age of “e-governance” and “smarter state” which has become an essential part of modern living. In this context, Kazakhstan President H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev introduced numerous “structural reforms” to “modernize” public administration in the country which has now actually “reinforced” eternal relation between the dynasty and dynamics due to which spirits of “transparency”, “accountability”, “service”, “checks & balances” and last but not least “good governance” have been truly institutionalized.  

Kazakhstan President Tokayev prioritized improvement in the efficiency and quality of work of the state and its internal & external agencies in managing the country’s affairs and interacting with citizens as legitimate consumers of public services. By introducing various executive changes in the structure of the government he held accountable all the government agencies.

Civil services have become one of the “vital” forces to transform state, its agencies and civility alike. “French Revolution”, “Magna Crata”, “US Civil Liberties Act” and even Kazakhstan’s own concept of “Listening State” all uphold undeniable importance of efficient civil services. Even anti-corruption drive has become hot topic in the world because corruption has already damaged even basic core of moralities and government structures around the globe. Corruption is anti-development and humanity alike due to which visionary leadership of Kazakhstan institutionalized various anti-corruption plans and programs in the country.    

In order to “reenergizing” the civil services & its affairs the anti-corruption agency was reorganized and divided into the Civil Service Affairs Agency and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (Anti-Corruption Service) on June 13, 2019.

Economic stability and sustainability are the two important factors of socio-economic prosperity of modern economic discipline in the world. Trade and exports oriented policies bring further foreign reserves and enhance current account surplus. To further enhance the modern trade policies and integration of various economic stimulations a new Ministry of Trade and Integration was established on June 17, 2019. The Ministry was responsible for the formation and implementation of domestic and foreign trade policies, international economic integration, consumer protection, technical regulation, standardization and ensuring the uniformity of measurements, coordination of activities in the export promotion.

World has already witnessed “devastating” consequences of imbalanced economic and industrial growth during which elements of bio-diversity, environmental protection and climate change has been in the line of fire. There has been a high ratio of carbon footnotes around the globe which actually has now endangered the very basic survival of humanity on earth.

To pursue a “holistic” policy and maintain a “strategic” balance between massive industrialization and protection of environment the President of Kazakhstan formed a new Ministry of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources on June 17, 2019. The main functions of this agency were  governance and coordination of management processes in environmental protection, green economy development, waste management, protection, control and supervision of the rational use of natural resources, state geological exploration, mineral replacement, use and protection of water resources, forestry, wildlife and conservation areas.

Ours is the age of “digitalization” and “artificial intelligence” and ideal combination of both has now become “guarantor” of even national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the world. To speed-up the development of digitalization, computerization, ICT, and AI the Ministry of Digital Development, Defense and Aerospace Industry was transformed into the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry on June 17, 2019 with the addition of functions in geodesy and cartography, innovation, scientific and technological development of the country. Moreover, the Syrbar Foreign Intelligence Service was merged and strengthened on June 17, 2019 with the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Dissemination of true soft image of the country and formation of national narratives the Central Communications Service (CCS) was established under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on July 22, 2019.

Furthermore, the Division for Monitoring the Consideration of Appeals of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan was created on July 22, 2019. The Agency for Regulation and Development of the Financial Market was created on November 11, 2019 through reorganization of the National Bank of the country.

Qualitative human resources have now become necessity of modernization of state, civility and economic stability around the world. In this regard, the President gradually renewd the management staff and initiated the formation of the Presidential Youth Personnel Reserve on a competitive basis.

A set of reforms has now enabled the government of Kazakhstan to overcome sever pandemic of COVID-19. A new set of institutional reforms was implemented in 2020 to improve the public administration system based on the lessons of the pandemic. President of the Republic of Kazakhstan decree ensured on March 16, 2020 socio-economic stability. Pandemic of COVID-19 has been diminished and journey of prosperity has re-surfaced and re-started in Kazakhstan.

The President created the Supreme Council for Reforms on September 14, 2020 consisting of 10 people. He established Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan on September 92020 that which was directly subordinated and accountable to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Moreover, creation of the Ministry for Emergency Situations of the Republic of Kazakhstan on September 9, 2020 further had further enhanced state’s response and preparedness against all natural calamities and non-state actors.

In this context the Agency for Protection and Development of Competition of the Republic of Kazakhstan was formed on September 9, 2020. The mission of said body was to create equal conditions for market participants by protecting and promoting competition, limiting monopolistic activities and preventing unfair competition

Transparency in regional and national statistics reorganization of the Committee on Statistics of the Ministry of National Economy into the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning Reforms was ordered on October 5, 2020.

The President of Kazakhstan reduced 25 percent total strength of civil servants by adopting of the constitutional Law on Amendments to the Constitutional Law on the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated December 30, 2020.

All modern prominent economists of the world indicate “colossal” implications of black/parallel or shadow economy which has multiplier consequences to national treasury, development of domestic industrial enterprises and even waste of national talent and human capital too. The President strengthend the fight against the “shadow” economy, with the aim to reduce its level to 15 percent by 2025.

For achieving this goal a new State Planning System (SPS) was designed to build a more flexible architecture of program documents, increase the interconnectedness of strategic and budget planning, and clearly establish the direct responsibility of the heads of state bodies and organizations for the implementation of plans and programs. In this connection, a Concept of Public Administration Development (PAD) of the Republic of Kazakhstan through 2030 was consequently designed to ensure the transition from an administrative and control orientation.

We live in the age of economic liberalization in which private sector plays an important role. The President introduced meaningful structural  economic reforms in the country in which positive and participatory  taxation system, optimal use of land management and foreign labor remained main focus which actually reduced state participation in business activities and created conditions for the development of the private sector, exemption of micro and small business entities from paying taxes, postpone the introduction of mandatory payment by employers of a 5 percent contribution to the Unified Accumulative Pension Fund until 2023.

The widespread introduction of non-cash payments and the development of non-bank payment systems with appropriate regulatory rules were also institutionalized. Order to seize unused agricultural land from irresponsible landowners, tax laws, laws on public administration, Implementation of a pilot project for satellite monitoring of agricultural land in Akmola, Kostanay, East Kazakhstan and Mangistau regions during 2020 and a 40 percent reduction in the quota for attracting foreign labor was also announced. A new system of conducting annual inspections at enterprises that attract foreign labor, development by the Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of the Unified Register of external debt in the form of a digitized database was announced and implemented.

Development and adoption of the Law on Industrial Policy was designed to define the basic principles, goals and objectives of the development of the manufacturing industry. On February 5, 2021, this draft law was presented in the Mazhilis of  Parliament. Development of a new national project to develop the agro-industrial complex through 2026 was established which provided for the formation of at least seven ecosystems for the production and processing of agricultural raw materials around major investment projects, a package of measures to stimulate cooperation in rural areas, the formation of human capital in agriculture, etc.

Development of a new regulatory framework for small and medium-sized business activities was aimed at changing the regulatory policy, implementation of the export accelerator program was aimed at supporting medium-sized non-resource enterprises in order to expand access to foreign markets.

Comprehensive measures were announced to reorient the excess liquidity of second-tier banks to lending to small and medium-sized businesses and to stop currency speculation. New tax regime with new tax code and regulations were patronized. Profound simplification of the execution of tax obligations, including through digitalization, implementation of the expanded budget covering the activities of extra-budgetary funds, including the State Social Insurance Fund, the Social Health Insurance Fund, and the Unified Accumulative Pension Fund was designed.

Social development is must for politico-economic stability due to which the Decree on Measures was promulgated to reduce the debt burden of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan on June 26, 2019, according to which the government and the National Bank were instructed to repay the debts on loans of low-income citizens in second-tier banks and microfinance organizations.

Development by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of the draft Law on Amendments and Supplements to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on issues of social protection of certain categories of citizens was aimed at strengthening measures to support persons with disabilities. The introduction of mechanisms for subsidizing rent payments with the reorientation of part of the funds provided for the construction of rental housing in the regions (with coverage of at least 100,000 families) through the “Otbasy Bank”, was created on the basis of “Zhilstroysberbank”, as well as subsidizing the costs of employers in the construction of rental houses in rural areas.

The President ordered to create the unified digital healthcare space with the inclusion of 90 percent of medical organizations and the introduction of electronic health passports. A special program “Ansagan Sabi” was commencd from 2021 with the provision of 7000 quotas for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Initially, Kazakhstan President H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev revolutionized the concept of governance by introducing diversified but integrated structural reforms in public administration and civil service. Sincere efforts have been initiated to bring healthy, positive, productive and participatory politicization and democratization in the country. Due to which women participation has been further enhanced. Scope, utility and composition of genuine opposition have been institutionalized.

Concepts of responsibility, transparency, accountability and interconnectivity was introduced and consequently implemented. Now Kazakhstan has become a Listening State. Special focus was given to anti-corruption legislation and practices which actually, transformed its politics, administration, society, judiciary and all the agencies of the government.

Meaningful socio-economic reforms has brightened its overall economic stability and promoted elements of sustainability. It also lessened ratios of poverty and deficits of energy and food supplies in the country. Small and medium enterprises have been further activated to assist the rural economy and its people in Kazakhstan.

Being prominent regional expert of Kazakhstan I really appreciate comprehensive structural reforms initiated by Kazakhstan President Jomart Tokayev which has now actually drastically changed its economic outlook, political orientation, societal make-up, administrative utility, judicial scope and last but not least legislative make-over.