Anti-corruption fight in Kazakhstan is not an easy ride15 august 2014, 19:11
Kazakhstan is struggling to find a way to effectively fight corruption. Transparency International placed the country onto the 140th place out of 177 countries examined in its Corruption Perception Index 2013.
Nur Otan, the ruling party of Kazakhstan, has put forward a program of fighting corruption that envisions complete eradication of corruption in Kazakhstan within 10 years starting 2015. However, a group of experts together with an Almaty-based research NGO Insitute of Political Solutions came to the conclusion that the program needed a thought-through and more concrete approach to the problem.
Chair of the Board at Transparency International Kazakhstan Natalia Malyarchuk agreed that the anti-corruption project draft contained timely aspects. Nevertheless, she said that "the proposed text looks like a set of instructions to all and at the same time no one, which is not supported by intermediate goals and desired outcomes."
"The content of the document seems unstructured; one can see an attempt to rely on a kind of "public opinion" and so include in the text all the points of criticism that appear in the media. This is harmful to the document and jeopardizes its execution. This happened due to inaccurate and incomplete analysis of the core problems that exist in the anti-corruption sphere in Kazakhstan," Malyarchuk said.
Malyarchuk recommended the creators of the project to start with identifying the causes that had created the need to convince the citizens that corruption was wrong. "It is only when we understand the causes that it will become clear what to do next," the speaker said.
This echoes the observation made by Margarita Assenova of the Jamestown Foundation on the nature of corruption in the country. She noted that the report prepared by the Kazakhstan Prosecutor General's Office in the spring of 2013 admitted lack of results from anti-corruption measures that Kazakhstan had been taking, because corruption had stopped being a roaming problem and became endemic.
According to the director of the Public Policies Institute of Nur Otan party Sayasat Nurbek, the anti-corruption program is specifically aimed at fighting the perception of corruption as something normal. The new program, draws all the layers of the society into the anti-corruption campaign thus creating an atmosphere of zero tolerance towards any and all manifestations of corruption. The program is focused on addressing the causes that bolster corruption. A special road map consisting of two five-year phases will be developed to more effectively implement the program, Nurbek said.
One of the specific recommendations came from the president of Kazakhstan's Union for Protection of Entrepreneurs and Owners Vasily Rezvan. He said that making the planned population-wide tax reporting was one of the strong points of the anti-corruption program that could boost the image of the program in the society. Currently, it is only public servants who have to submit their property and income reports. But with introduction of both income and expenses reporting for everyone, it will become much easier of identify and eradicate manifestations of corruption.
"We are often faced with the situation that our officials own nothing (outside the ordinary). If we look at their tax returns, the officials are virtually on the brink of poverty. (...) But at the same time we see that sometimes ordinary citizens are in possession of several apartments and luxury cars. How can ordinary citizens possibly afford to buy 60 apartments? (...) Well, this is how dummies are used by officials to register their property obtained as kickbacks or bribes. Therefore, if incomes reporting becomes a requirement for everyone (...) then we will see a devastating blow to corruption," Rezvan said.
In the beginning of this year a nationwide anti-corruption movement Zhanaru was initiated in Kazakhstan. Vice-Chariman of the movement Murat Abenov told Tengrinews that there was a need to identify and eliminate loopholes in the legislation, thereby carrying out "preventive work”. Introducing population-wide tax reporting may be just that.
By Dinara Urazova (Azhar Ashirova contributed to the story)