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Nazarbayev speaks reforms, including moving powers from President to Parliament

11 march 2015, 23:37
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©Turar Kazangapov
©Turar Kazangapov

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has declared today that he will be running for office in the upcoming early presidential elections. During his speech at the XVI Congress of Nur Otan party, the ruling political party in Kazakhstan, he spoke about institutional reforms he envisions for Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports citing the presidential press service.

“There is a need for a new and strong response to the global challenges to our statehood. We cannot stand idle. We have to move forward availing on our success to strengthen our statehood. Therefore I am putting forward five institutional reforms,” Nazarbayev said.

State apparatus and meritocracy

The first reform proposed is creating a modern, professional and autonomous state apparatus that will ensure high-quality implementation of economic programs and provision of public services. This will be achieve by eliminating patronage and nepotism.

“Elections, change of ministers, akims and other executives should not affect the operation of administrative civil service. It is necessary to move from the current positional model to career civil service. Each leader must start from the bottom and move up the job ladder,” Nazarbayev said.

A new system of wages based on performance of civil servants should be introduced. In addition, Nazarbayev said that it made sense to attract foreign managers to work in Kazakhstan’s civil service notwithstanding their lack or citizenship or knowledge of the language. “This is what many successful countries do,” he said.

He added that full evaluation of civil servants at all levels should be made to pave the way for the principle of meritocracy in the state apparatus regardless of ethnicity, including in courts, law enforcement agencies, national companies and holdings.

In order to fight corruption, Nazarbayev proposed to create a separate unit designed specifically for this task within the structure of the Agency for Civil Service Affairs.

“We need to develop a new Law on Civil Service and amend the Law on Combating Corruption,” Nazarbayev added.

Rule of law

The second direction Nazarbayev spoke about was the rule of law that should guarantee property rights, create a favorable business environment, and protect contracts, which will eventually become the basis for economic growth.

“Today, the weak points of the court system are the selection of judges, inefficiency of qualification requirements for judges, which often leads to corruption in the judiciary. Judiciary should not be a closed club beyond public criticism. Openness is a cure from corruption in the judicial ranks,” he said.

He also named lack of transparency in the work of Kazakh police as a serious problem. He said that both the courts and the police had to have a better selection process. For example, the judges all had to work some years in lower courts before reaching higher courts and be first put on a probation period. Police officers should regularly upgrade their qualifications and undergo certifications.

In order to increase trust in the Kazakh judiciary the country should also “attract foreign judges for investment dispute related trials and conduct the trials in line with the best standards of foreign and international courts,” Nazarbaeyv said.

He added that it was necessary to make the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan “modern, mobile and professional.”

Industrialization and economic growth

Nazarbayev paid particular attention to economic diversification and industrialization, the latter of which he called the factor “forming the middle class.”

However, "industrialization and the processing sector have not yet become the real drivers of the economic growth. The government needs to attend to this,” he stressed.

Nazarbayev spoke about the agricultural sector too. He said that it was crucial to develop processing in agriculture. This task will be aided by 10 large-scale projects spearheaded by multinational companies in Kazakhstan's processing industry, he said.

The President said that it was necessary to “carry out large-scale work on simplification of the tariff policy in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union. In the future, the main task would be to ensure a dynamic economic development. Emergence of 3 or 4 new export-oriented products diversifying the Kazakh economy should be the outcome of the work.”

According to Nazarbayev, another key direction is development of service enterprises, in particular in tourism. This can serve as an employment opportunity for rural population, which constitutes 43% of the entire population.

Another aim is to make Almaty a financial center, whose special status will be enshrined in the law.

Strengthening Kazakhstani identity

Nazarbayev said that the Kazakhstani identity should be based on the principle of citizenship. “All the citizens must enjoy one and the same set of rights, bear the same burden of responsibility and have equal access to opportunities,” Nazarbayev said, adding that civil equality, hard work, honesty, celebration of learning and education, secularism and tolerance were the values of particular importance.

Another important aspect is the development of trilingualism of Kazakh, Russian and English languages in Kazakhstan, he said.

“Our primary goal is that Kazakhstanis adopt new national values - the rule of law, national traditions, Kazakhstani values that are cherished above ethnic behavioral patterns,” he said and stressed the importance of Eurasian identity, which synthesizes the best qualities of both Asians and Europeans.

The middle class should be viewed as a basis of the Kazakhstani nation, he said. He also said that the schools needed to start teaching all-Kazakhstani values from “Magnilik Yel” concept.

Nazarbayev highlighted positive aspects in various religions practiced in Kazakhstan and said that those values were called to unite Kazakhstanis and “serve the cause of peace and harmony, development of society and the economy, strengthening of the state.”

Transparent and accountable state

Nazarbayev noted that Kazakhstani society was gradually adopting the changes that enabled it to avoid escalation of clashes in the country and strengthen its political stability.

“Experience of many countries shows that negligence of the principle of "a strong state and solid economy comes first, only then comes politics" leads to disasters, schisms in societies. In some political regimes collapse, in others - economies collapse, conflicts and even civil wars erupt. We know the history of different countries and whiteness it happening today in many states. A series of recent civil wars and bloody conflicts in different regions of the world has shown that ill-conceived and forced democratization does not guarantee stability of the state and does not provide for successful economic modernization,” Nazarbayev declared.

According to Nazarbayev, to be effective the five institutional reforms should be pursued gradually and in the order listed above. The success of these reforms can be ensured only with the will of the people and the government. 

After reaching successful results, Nazarbayev said that it would be appropriate to “decide on a new system of electing local executive bodies. A constitutional reform should be carried out stage by stage, envisaging redistribution of power from the President to the Parliament and the Government in accordance with our traditions.”

“As international experience suggests, the establishment of a strong state, developed and liberal society require 40-50 years of steady movement of the country forward,” Nazarbayev said. 

“The proposed measures will radically change the system of social relations. In order to carry them out, I propose establishing a National Commission for Modernization (...). It will coordinate the implementation of the whole set of the reforms. Thus, our key task in the coming years is to start and gradually implement these five institutional reforms,” the President concluded.

By Dinara Urazova (editing by Tatyana Kuzmina)


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