Kyrgyzstan to downsize government

Effort to reduce spending, improve efficiency

By Asker Sultanov

2012-01-23

BISHKEK – Kyrgyzstan’s new government has proposed a reduction in the number of ministries, departments and employees in an effort to slash the state budget by more than 1 billion KGS (US $213m).

In early January, Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov presented the Cabinet of Ministers with a reform plan, developed by an Economic and Anti-Monopoly Policy Ministry-headed commission that surveyed the functions of every Kyrgyz government agency.

To reduce costs, the new government plans to eliminate four state agencies, Babanov said.

“We are now looking into ... dealing with the efficiency of government agencies,” he said. “We’re emphasising optimising government functions and doing away with over-lapping functions in the state agencies.”

Cuts will equal about 18% of personnel

The Kyrgyz government has 18,000 employees.

The executive branch will see a significant reduction, with the number of state bodies shrinking from 20 to 14 and the number of employees falling by 3,200.

That includes halving the Financial Police to about 200 employees, he said. In order to ensure professionalism in that agency, Deputy PM Dzhoomart Otorbayev will chair a commission to select personnel and all employees will undergo polygraphs.

Babanov also proposed reducing expenditures on items like vehicles. The total proposed reduction amounts to 40% or 1,200 of the ministries’ vehicles.

The new government, besides ministries, will include five state agencies and nine state services.

The agencies will include Geology and Mineral Resources, Construction and Regional Development, Environment and Forestry, Communications, and Physical Culture and Sports, Economy and Anti-Monopoly Regulation Minister Temir Sariyev said.

The state services, if the plan is approved, would be Corrections (penal), Tax, Customs, Financial Market Regulation and Supervision, Intellectual Property and Innovation, Drug Control, Registration, Financial Intelligence and Financial Police Services, Sariyev added.

“In addition, two new inspectorates are being formed: Food, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Safety and Ecological and Technical Safety,” Sariyev said.

Restructuring must be purposeful, observer says

Scaling back the government is a must, Nurdin Duishenbekov of the Kyrgyzstan Development Programme, an NGO, said.

“The state administrative structure is ... obsolete,” he said. “Its obsolescence and inefficiency are precisely the source of ills like mass corruption, criminality, unemployment, the need to migrate for work and so on.” The state must be purposeful in restructuring, he said.

“If there is no clear concept of reform ... then (the state) will eventually regain its former dimensions,” Duishenbekov added.

Duishenbekov said he supports the authorities’ initiative to do away with some departments and combine others.

“There are obvious examples of overlapping functions,” he said. “Judge for yourself: there is the Drug Control (Agency) and the Chief Administration for Countering Drug Trafficking under the Interior Ministry, and there also are anti-drug units in the Customs Service and the National Security Committee. The question logically arises as to whether we need that many parallel structures to fight this scourge.”

“I should also add that many agencies need not be shut down, but just trim them as much as possible,” Duishenbekov said.

Reducing the number of ministries is not as important as reducing their payrolls, Ar-Namys MP Tokon Mamytov said.

“Let there be a lot of ministers, 20 even, but we need to cut down the number of employees,” he said. “Kyrgyzstan’s current priorities are economic development and countering corruption,” he said.

The reform proposal addresses these problems, Mamytov said.

“However, there will soon be new challenges, and I think that in a few years we will need to create new agencies,” he said. “At that time, we’ll be entering the (Russia-Kazakhstan-Belarus) common economic space and (their) Customs Union, and we need to think about how to minimise losses and keep the people from suffering.”

Kyrgyzstan also will need to re-organise its law enforcement and judicial bodies soon, Mamytov said. “The current reform of law enforcement bodies is weak and does not have the desired effect.”

Laid-off will be compensated

About 3,000 of the 3,200 employees facing layoffs will receive compensation, Finance Minister Akylbek Zhaparov said.

“The funds are already allocated for this in the state budget, which parliament must approve,” he said.

Those who lose their jobs will receive two months’ salary -- about $300 (14,000 KGS), Mamytov said.

“Also, by law, the leadership must find employment for (them),” he said. “They can be offered open positions in (government) agencies or get recommendations for openings in private companies.”

The administrative reforms are a starting point, Duishenbekov said.

“But don’t forget that along with reducing personnel, we need to strengthen our oversight of government spending on other matters – official travel, capital investments, tenders, etc. – so that the funds saved by cutting employees do not disappear into other nooks and crannies of the state,” he said.

The downsizing will save money, but compensation packages for the laid-off mean it will take time to see the savings, he predicted.

“(The compensation packages equal) a huge amount of money for the state, so there is no point in expecting budget savings right away,” he said. “But, with the right approach and proper management of finances, the results of the downsizing should be apparent at the end of the calendar year.”

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Reader Comments

  • Yes, a very good motive. It is necessary to create jobs and restart idle factories, so that our compatriots are able to find jobs in their Motherland!

    March 9, 2012 @ 10:03:40AM Таштанбубу
  • By and large, the idea is correct and necessary. The question is how it will be put into practice. I am afraid they will do everything Kyrgyz-style again. Usually, about half of any state agency's staff are proteges of influential people; they never get fired, and no polygraph can help. Ordinary working people will be fired. Then, even if they employ new personnel, they will gradually replace them with their proteges. They promised budget savings of more than one billion soms, but I do not think they will save a billion as promised, about 700-800 million at best.

    March 8, 2012 @ 11:03:27PM толон
  • But this time the government created the right motivation. Most agencies have been copying each other and we were bored of doing nothing. Now we need to enhance effectiveness and not just on paper as it was before ... may the decision-making theory work!

    March 6, 2012 @ 12:03:52PM Таштанбубу
  • For the prosperity of our state and production, there is a clear motivation. In the short run we need to restore the rate of production (not only sewing), and those people who were made redundant should be employed for the benefit of the people of our nation. Thanks in advance.

    March 5, 2012 @ 03:03:15AM Таштанай
  • Yes, this is the right decision and finally the correct motivation! Following the reduction or reorganization, the money saved should be used to repay the foreign debt, no need to waste time, am I right?

    February 26, 2012 @ 01:02:14PM Таштанбубу Буудайчиевна
  • Corruption is thriving because of the reduction since civil servants supposed to be fired are all relatives and fellow countrymen who used to enjoy immunity despite being incompetent. They will sack those who have brains, but have no good connections.

    February 26, 2012 @ 01:02:06AM местный читатаель
  • The compensations should be used to increase the salaries of the remaining employees so that they will work better. Because $150 is a small salary; even a cleaning lady can work two jobs to earn the same amount. Officials should get paid decent salaries, otherwise they would look for additional income, which is called corruption. As for the people who were laid off, have you ever seen someone taking care of them in developed countries?? Hello, the Soviet Union no longer exists! If you are fired, look for a job yourself, but the state has no obligation to you - it is a market economy, and everyone should do one's best to be competitive; stop being dependent on the people!

    February 25, 2012 @ 11:02:10PM Динара
  • That is right, it is time to cut the state apparatus. So, budgetary savings should not be expected immediately. But with a proper approach and correct finance administration, the reduction will produce an effect by the end of the calendar year, and the people will support you.

    February 24, 2012 @ 06:02:26AM Таштанбубу
  • Salaries should be raised first, followed by reforms, if we want to be like Georgia.

    February 21, 2012 @ 11:02:16PM Айдар
  • A government downsizing is a populist measure. It is to please simple and stupid people, and they are the majority. The state will only lose. You'd better offer officials good pay and assign them duties and responsibilities in a competent way. The state and people would prosper as a result. The measure is indicative of the fact that things are very bad in Kyrgyzstan.

    February 10, 2012 @ 11:02:58PM казах
  • What kind of downsizing are you talking about if they sack competent but undesirable, and immediately take incompetent and young, who will not have any issues and problems at work for 3 to 5 years, only a stable salary?

    February 10, 2012 @ 04:02:48AM читатель
  • Hello. Is there any pilot training center in Afghanistan? Please reply by email.

    February 8, 2012 @ 07:02:53AM Maks
  • The reform will not root out corruption, but it will increase it, I think, during the selection of financial police officers, for instance. BLOOD CONNECTIONS WILL NEVER BE ERASED FROM OUR MENTALITY. This is the cause of corruption. Training specialists also costs a lot of money to the state, and now they will be jobless. The regulatory framework has been shuttered by the Mayor's efforts (Sariyev, his Georgian advisers and Babanov, our prime minister). As a result, it will be like Georgia. THEY MAY BE GOOD AT FIGHTING CORRUPTION, BUT THEY ARE UNABLE TO RESTORE OTHER SERVICES, SUCH AS SANITARY, AND THEY REGRET IT VERY MUCH. GOD FORBID POISONING AND INFECTION OUTBREAKS.

    January 26, 2012 @ 03:01:38AM мария