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100 steps to reform: Kazakhstan develops comprehensive plan

“100 Concrete Steps,” a plan to implement five reforms proposed by Nursultan Nazarbayev during his election campaign, has been released, Tengrinews reports.

The five reforms, according to Nazarbayev, are Kazakhstan's answer to the global and internal challenges. These reforms are called to help Kazakhstan joint the club of 30 most developed countries of the world.

These include formation of an effective state apparatus; ensuring rule of law; facilitating industrialization and economic growth; developing national identity and unity; and enhancing government accountability.

In order to implement these reforms, the National Commission for Modernization was established. It is led by Prime Minister Karim Massimov. The commission is composed of five working groups consisting of domestic and foreign experts.

Implementing the first reform will see modernization in the procedure of admission to civil service. Admission to civil service should start from the bottom positions. Generally, the new system will be more comprehensive and will be guided by the principle of meritocracy. Wages of civil servants will be performance-based. The role of the Agency for Civil Service and Anti-Corruption will be increased and the fight against corruption will be intensified with the adoption of a relevant law. A new Ethics Code will be developed. Also, international experts will be admitted to work in Kazak civil service. With the adoption of a new law on civil service, acting civil servants will have to pass a certification on a regular basis.

The second reform focuses on ensuring the rule of law in Kazakhstan. It involves a transition from the five-step justice system (first instance, appeal, cassation, supervisory and re-supervisory) to a three-level (first, appeal, cassation). In addition, eligibility requirements and mechanisms of selection of judges will be tightened, the scope of the jury court will be extended and Astana International Arbitration Center (AIFC) will be created.

Citizens will be able to contest the actions of judges in a special court under the Supreme Court. All the court proceedings will be audio- and video-recorded. A better balance between the prosecution and defense in courts will be achieve through gradual transfer of powers to the investigating judge to sanction all investigative actions limiting constitutional rights of citizens. Participation of prosecutors in civil disputes trials will be reduced to facilitate and accelerate the judicial procedures.

Transparency of the police will be ensured by establishing a system of public complaints against the policemen who violate ethical standards. The status and powers of the public council dealing with the complaints will be established by the law.

A special investment collegium will be created in the Supreme Court to deal with disputes involving large investors. There will also be an International Council to the Supreme Court, where foreign judges and lawyers will advise the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan on the improvement of the Kazakh justice system.

According to the third reform, strategic investors will be attracted to various sectors of the Kazakh economy, most notably the agricultural sector. Amendments to the Land Code will be introduced to introduce agricultural lands into the free market. Procedures for changing the purpose of a land lot will be simplified.

In addition, the tax and customs systems of Kazakhstan will become integrated. Universal declaration of taxed income and expenses will be introduced. Starting January 1, 2017, it will be in place for public servants and then a phased transition to encompass all citizens will follow.

Protection the interests of entrepreneurs will be ensure by strengthening of the institution of the Business Ombudsman. In addition, the Astana International Financial Center will be created on the basis of the infrastructure created for the EXPO-2017 in Astana.

Kazakhstan will also extensively the work on attracting international transport flows. The program emphasizes the need for turning national companies Air Astana, Kazakhstan's leading airlines, and Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, the country's national railway operator, into international carriers.

A new international airport that meets best international standards will be built near Almaty with the help of a strategic investor. The aim is to improve the efficiency of state regulation of air transportation to increase the attractiveness of transit through Kazakhstan. 

Educational reforms will emphasize the importance of English language education in Kazakhstan.

Another point in the program is introduction of mandatory social health insurance and optimization of social assistance through strengthening its targeted implemented.

The forth reform, which has national identity at its focus, will be implemented through a number of projects, such as patriotic act "Mangilik Yel," large-scale project of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan “Big Country - Big Family" that are called to “strengthen the Kazakh identity and create conditions for the formation of an integrated civil community.”

Various tourist and learning projects will be undertaken to ensure that both Kazakhstani citizens and foreign tourists are provided with necessary information about Kazakhstan's history, culture, traditions and other important aspects of the country. Promotion of the five institutional reforms and of the idea of Kazakhstani identity will be seen in the media, the Internet, and social networks.

The fifth reform involves enchanting accountability in the government. State agencies will be free to achieve their goals independently but heads of the state agencies will report annually on the achievements of their departments. In addition, budget and consolidated financial statements will become public, as well as external financial audit information, results of evaluation of the effectiveness of public policies, public assessment of the quality of public services and reports on execution of state and local budgets.

All the information in the public bodies will become accessible, except for the information containing state secrets and other data protected by law. Local governance will be expanded. A state corporation responsible for provision of all public services will be created. It will be modelled along the example of Canada Service of Canada and Centrelink of Australia.

By Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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