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Benefits and drawbacks of government reorganisation in Kazakhstan

12 august 2014, 15:25
0
Extended sitting of the Government. ©Turar Kazangapov
Extended sitting of the Government. ©Turar Kazangapov

Earlier this month President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev reorganised the country’s government: out of 17 ministries, 9 agencies, 54 committees, 272 departments - only 12 ministries and about 30 committees remained. What will these changes lead to?

According to Yerlen Badykhan, a senior analyst at the Agency for Research on ROI, one of the positive sides in the reorganization of the government is a reduction in public spending. Nevertheless, this is to happen provided that the number of civil servants and the cost of their maintenance will be reduced "not in words but in deeds."

The analyst mentioned that the number of civil servants increased by 8.5 thousand from 2003 to 2013 and now exceeds 90 thousand people. The cost of maintaining all of them increased by 3.5 times during the same period and reached about 600 billion tenge ($3.3 billion) a year.

"The axing of the state machine may be concurrent to the recently unveiled plans to reduce state participation in the economy and privatisation of some of state assets. On the other hand, it creates a problem of employment of the axed civil servants, which they most probably will have to address on their own," Badykhan added.

Kazakhstani political scientist Aidos Sarym said that the reorganization was done to give an “impetus” to the otherwise overly encumbered bureaucracy. "(...) It needs a regular shake-up. But, since there are no other real ways to breathe some life into the civil service, like criticism from MPs, at least such administrative top-to-bottom actions could give it an impetus for a time. There are many problems to address. Starting from the crisis in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia to big modernization challenges,” he explained.

However, according to the analyst, abolishing or merging agencies and ministries is quite costly, and directly affects people's lives and businesses. "Any reorganization freezes activities of the organization for at least a month or even two or three. That we have here now is that all the transactions and activities on the accounts of the Treasury have been suspended, so as most of the activities of the government officials. The people are now thinking: "what will I become, where will I be appointed to, what position will I be holding, should I be looking for another job,” Sarym said.

The analyst believes that public procurement activities will also be suspended until all the departments settle back in. As a result, the funding allocated for various government-run projects will not be put to use in time and by the end of the year a huge amount of money will be distributed in a hurry via hastily organised tenders and without through checks of the bidding suppliers of goods and services. 

He also believes that after some time, as the worries subside at the national level, the wave of rearrangements will be moving to the lower levels of the government. It is quite possible that similar reorganisations will be taking place at regional levels with administrative bodies being cut, merged and remodelled.

Reporting by Azhar Ashirova, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina


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