Kyrgyzstan’s Development Strategy until 2040: same old goals and promises
- Written by Maria Levina
BISHKEK (TCA) — The long-term development strategy of Kyrgyzstan until 2040 was approved earlier this month at the meeting of the National Sustainable Development Council of Kyrgyzstan chaired by President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
Leaders of the legislative, executive and judicial government branches, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the business community, as well as the expert community and the media took part in the strategy’s discussion.
The draft Sustainable Development Strategy for 2018-2040 was developed last October under the presidency of Almazbek Atambayev.
After Sooronbai Jeenbekov became President in November 2017, the document was planned for discussion by the National Sustainable Development Council in March of this year, then it was postponed to April, but the discussion took place only in August.
The draft Strategy was considered at various platforms with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders. "As a result, a lot of proposals and critical remarks were received, which were carefully considered and included in the document," President Jeenbekov said.
The Strategy covers all spheres of the country's life and contains tasks relating to all power branches. This document is conceptual, and within its framework, development programs of all industries and regions will be adopted taking into account their specifics, the President said.
The Strategy-40 will be implemented in several stages. The first one will be the period until 2023. Its goals and objectives, the scope of the work to be done will be clearly defined, projects and specific tasks will be identified and the terms for execution, financial sources, human resources and legislative norms will be specified.
"We will be able to realize our strategic goals only in conditions of political stability. A key task is to ensure a consistent interaction between all power branches," Jeenbekov stressed.
The main distinguishing feature of the Strategy is that it is aimed at the development of human potential. “The public policy will be focused on this goal," the President said.
Implementation of judicial reform is the key task for the very near future. If a fair judicial system worthy of people's trust is established in the country, it will be possible to ensure the country’s development, the President believes.
"The Strategy's goal is to build a national judicial system, ensure justice and the rule of law, and eradicate corruption," said Jeenbekov.
Immediate implementation of the Tunduk e-Government system and Taza Koom (Clean Society) project is an urgent task for all power branches. Introduction of new technologies, economic platforms and infrastructures is expected, Jeenbekov concluded.
During the Strategy’s discussion, expert and civil society selected priority sectors for development – agriculture, light industry, agro-industrial processing, and tourism. These sectors create the largest number of jobs, said Nursulu Ahmetova, Secretary of the National Sustainable Development Council.
Following the public discussions, the Council’s Secretariat systematized more than 500 proposals, short-term and medium-term. "It was a brainstorming of all social groups in our society," Akhmetova said.
Kyrgyzstan needs a competitive economy that will be based on environmentally friendly products. For development, entrepreneurs need a fair judicial power. In the medium term, it is necessary to create a high-quality production infrastructure, Akhmetova added.
The Strategy considers 244 investment projects worth over $20 billion.
The Strategy is divided into four sections: "Man, family, society", "Economic well-being and development and environmental quality", "Public administration," and "Development management".
Investments will be attracted for the construction and reconstruction of large hydropower plants and other generating facilities. Alternative energy sources will be developed. The share of environmentally friendly energy sources should be at least 50% of the country's total energy balance.
According to the Strategy, the country’s economy “will be resistant to all external shocks. Kyrgyzstan should enter the group of countries of the world with income above the average gross national income (GNI) per capita.”
Ensuring GDP growth
The Government's efforts will be aimed at ensuring macroeconomic stability, developing regions, increasing export potential and creating jobs, Prime Minister Mukhammedkaly Abylgaziev said.
The Government plans to increase GDP and create 300,000 new jobs. To do this, it is necessary to improve the business environment and change attitudes towards entrepreneurs.
It is planned to increase the share of SMEs up to 50% of GDP.
The Government's goal is to enter the top 50 countries in the World Bank's Doing Business rating, the Prime Minister said. It is necessary to improve such indexes as the connection of business entities to electric and heat networks, land transformation, simplification of tax reporting, and enforcement of contracts.
Abylgaziev suggested implementing a national analogue of the Doing Business rating for the regions.
Inefficient enterprises will either be liquidated or placed in trust management, the Prime Minister said.
Opinions and suggestions
If the rules for doing business are changed including the withdrawal of the economy from the shadow, the Strategy’s implementation will be an achievable goal, expert Sergey Ponomarev believes.
The first Strategy’s stage is designed for 2018-2023, period of presidency of Sooronbai Jeenbekov, and this gives some certainty. Everything depends on the President and the coherence of the authorities, political scientist Almaz Akmataliev said.
Most of the previous development strategies were not implemented, and the main cause was the lack of funding.
During the adoption of the previous Strategy for 2013-2017, good words and suggestions were said but its implementation did not exceed 17%. For example, the task of the annual development of 50 thousand hectares of land has not been fulfilled at all.
Leader of the Ata Meken parliamentary faction, Almambet Shikmamatov, asked the Government to create better conditions for investors. Local governors and heads of villages cannot develop regions because they have no opportunities and sufficient authority. The villages can develop through investments. If large businesses and investments come to the regions, jobs will be created. To this end, the Government and local authorities should create conditions and grant preferences to business people and protect them.
According to head of the National Alliance of Business Associations Uluk Kydyrbaev, there is money in the country but it works in the shadow economy which is 50% of GDP or even more. To withdraw the business from the shadow, the State should create conditions for it.
There were also more critical comments to the Strategy. The most depressing is the fact that the very format of discussion of strategic tasks boils down to how it should be, some experts say. The same trivial truths have been repeated endlessly: the country needs stability in political and public life, the parliamentary system should strengthen, the economy should develop, officials should work honestly, and the fight against corruption must be continued. These tasks have been voiced over and over again.
There are no words about methods and means of implementing the projects including financing sources to achieve the goals.
For example, 21 projects worth $588 million are planned to provide the population with drinking water. It is not clear how this amount was calculated and from where the money will come.
The priority industries selected by the latest Strategy (agriculture, light industry, processing of agricultural products and tourism) are called priority sectors from year to year but nothing has changed.
The objectives for attracting investments, participating in world trade and doing business are spelled out in general terms, and there are no goals for achieving specific indicators in international ratings.
“Kyrgyzstan should become a paradise for businesses, investors and for each entrepreneur – local and foreign, large and small, and become a place attracting talented and creative people,” the Strategy says. The country has heard this many times from various top-level officials, and still waits for a time when these promises finally come true.