Corruption has penetrated state bodies in Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s residents believe that the State Customs Service, State Service for Execution of Sentences, State Service for Combating Economic Crimes, and Ministry of Internal Affairs are the most corrupt government agencies in the country, according to a population confidence index survey conducted by the National Statistical Committee of Kyrgyzstan.

The State Agency for Youth, Physical Culture and Sports, State Committee for Information Technologies and Communication, and Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism are the least corrupt state bodies, the survey says.

Threat to national interests

“Corruption is a threat to the national interests of the country, and manifestations of corruption affect virtually all areas of public administration,” Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov said on July 18 at the State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry (SAEPF).

There is an extremely low level of trust in the SAEPF among local population, especially concerning the supervision of hunting, he added. The facts of poaching have not decreased, while the number of wild animals listed in the Red Book is decreasing. The analysis showed that the reason lies in the poor fight against corruption in the Agency.

Jeenbekov reminded that the Government is engaged in an uncompromising fight against corruption, and work in this direction will continue. He stressed that the public demands open and transparent work from all state employees and monitors everything that happens in the country. If corruption is seen from public servants, they will be punished according to the legislation.

Destructive corruption activity of the border guards begins to be systemic and seriously undermines public confidence in the Government, Jeenbekov stressed at the Government meeting to discuss the work of checkpoints on Kyrgyzstan’s borders.

There are numerous complaints, including from foreign tourists, about the illegal charges from the border guards. This adversely affects the image of the country, because the first impressions of foreigners are formed as they cross the border, the Prime Minister said. The safe, transparent and high-quality operation of checkpoints at the borders of the country is among the Government’s priorities, he added.

Corruption schemes revealed

Particularly outrageous is corruption in state bodies that are supposed to fight this evil. Last week, local media reported on the detention of an auditor and state inspectors of the Accounts Chamber accused of corruption.

The State Committee for National Security revealed a stable corruption scheme of systematic extortion of large sums of money from audited enterprises by the auditor of the Accounts Chamber and state inspectors accountable to him. The Accounting Chamber’s officials also forced employees of audited institutions to pay for their living, food, air travel expenses and repair of personal vehicles.

The Security Council of Kyrgyzstan has revealed 11 corruption zones and 49 risks of corruption in the Ministry of Emergency Situations, mainly in prevention and liquidation of emergency situations, public procurement, use of property, and financial irregularities.

According to the Finance Ministry, there is corruption in the public procurement system of Kyrgyzstan. “The public procurement is the most criticized sphere in the country because there is a mess and corruption there,” Director of the Public Procurement Department Ulan Danikeev told the media. For instance, tenders for the construction of schools were held at inflated prices, MPs said and promised to investigate the situation.

It may seem a paradox when the mountainous country rich in water resources with over 2,000 rivers suffers from a shortage of drinking water. Hundreds of Kyrgyzstan’s villages have no water supply networks, and the residents have to use water from rivers and lakes.

The previous Taza Suu (Clean Water) project was terminated by donors due to corruption. According to official data, 62.9 million euros have been raised to provide rural population with drinking water since 2000. The parliament deputies criticized the Government for the inefficient use of credit resources for the project.

Under a new $23 million project, it is planned to provide 24 villages in the Jalal-Abad province with drinking water. The IDB, Islamic Solidarity Fund and the Kyrgyz government will finance the project.

Shadow economy

It is very difficult to calculate how much the Government is losing because of the shadow economy but approximate figures were announced. According to tax statistics, the level of the shadow economy is 23.7% of the country’s GDP, and it is 39% according to the latest independent research. A former Finance Minister and MP, Akylbek Japarov, believes it is currently exceeds 50%.

Medium and small businesses represent about 41% of Kyrgyzstan’s economy. In the regions, many farmers are engaged in the sale of their agricultural products which is not taken into account by the tax service. However, in some cases SMEs avoid taxation, deliberately working in the shadow economy. To reduce its level, the Government is trying to persuade entrepreneurs to install cash registers and POS-terminals.

The Economy Ministry plans to invite international experts to assess the shadow economy of the country by the end of 2017. An Action Plan developed by the ministry aims to reduce the shadow economy and provides for fiscal relief for entrepreneurs to help them get out of the shadow economy.