The Five Institutional Reforms

The Speech by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Chairman of the “Nur Otan” Party N. Nazarbayev at the XVI Congress of the Party

March 11, 2015

                                                                                   А Modern State for All:

                                                                               Five Institutional Reforms

                                                                             Dear Kazakhstani People!

Over the years of Independence, we have worked our Great path. Our country ranks among 50 most competitive countries of the world. The GDP has grown up to 20 times and amounted to 13,000 US dollars per capita in 2014. Today, we work for the implementation of the main aim of the Strategy “Kazakhstan-2050” – becoming one of 30 most developed countries of the world.

Over the previous 4 years, we have achieved all objectives that I identified during the 2011 campaign.

Firstly, the volume of GDP grew by an annual average of 5.7 per cent. We have completed the first five-year plan of accelerated industrial and innovative development.

Secondly, the agricultural sector has received a strong impetus to the development.

Thirdly, great changes have taken place in the infrastructure sector. 

Fourthly, small and medium businesses are being developed.

Fifth, Kazakhstan took the path of social modernization. Since 2010, the income of the population has increased by 43 percent, and the average monthly salary - by 64 percent, approaching 130 thousand tenge. The amount of state social benefits has been increased by 1.4 times, the minimum pension - 1.8 times.

Sixthly, in 4 years, we completed a large-scale administrative reform. The state apparatus was reformed. 60 percent of Government functions were delegated to ministries and akimats. We optimized the number of ministries from 17 to 12. 9 agencies were cut and re-organized as committees in the ministries. We introduced the election of mayors of cities of regional importance, as well as rural mayors. There is a notable reform of the law enforcement organs and the judicial system. Work is underway on the tough fight against corruption. The secular nature of the state as the basic

Seventh, the international prestige of the country is being strengthened.

In general, we achieved all what was planned! A giant step was put forward! This is our common victory march!

At present, the situation in the world is complicated. The collapse of world market prices of energy and metals sharply increased economic risks. Almost all states are experiencing serious geopolitical and economic challenges.

Kazakhstan's response to the economic risks is reflected in a new economic policy "Nurly Zhol". It includes, firstly, measures to counter the economic turbulence in the framework of state programs of infrastructure development, and secondly, the continuation of the course of industrialization in the second five-year period. Social policy is also clearly defined. Tight fiscal policy and need for saving will not affect the social obligations of the state.

At the same time, global challenges and risks are so deep, they raised the question of the sustainability and success of every state. Therefore, we are facing new challenges.

Firstly, we must not allow a negative scenario of external factors to affect our state-building. Secondly, we need to maintain the momentum of development. Thirdly, we need to prepare the conditions for further development. Fourthly, we must continue to advance towards becoming one of 30 developed countries in the world.

We need to take extraordinary and strong measures to react to the global challenges influencing our statehood. We cannot stand still. Based on our success, we must move forward to strengthen our statehood. Therefore, I am putting forward five institutional reforms.

First - formation of the modern, professional and autonomous state apparatus that provides high-quality implementation of economic programs and the provision of public services.

Today, it is obvious that the administrative civil service depends on the political level. This dependence politicizes a decision-making, even in those cases when you need professional management without any policy. In the state apparatus, teams are formed around a particular patron. Such patronage creates conditions for corruption; nepotism raises and lowers the human potential. At the same time, the public service sector remains unattractive because of low wages. Often, civil servants have no clear career prospects, and their promotion depends on the notorius patrons. I know that important government programs and projects "suffer" because of the incompetence of some officials at various levels.

Therefore, an important task - to make a corps of civil servants professional and self-contained. Elections, change of ministers, mayors and other leaders must not affect the operation of administrative civil services. It is necessary to move from the current positional model towards career civil service. Every leader must start from below and reach the top through all management levels.

It is necessary to introduce a new system of remuneration for civil servants based on their contribution to the management process. At the end of each year, it is needed to provide payment of bonuses to political employees and awards to administrative employees based on the results of their activities and achievements in the economy. Do a good job - receive a bonus. No good job, hence, there is no economic growth and positive results, and, hence, the salary shrinks respectively. 

Now is the time to open new channels of search for talented candidates for the positions of public officials, including from the private sector. For some positions it is advisable to attract foreign managers. Non-knowledge of the language and citizenship should not be an obstacle here. Many successful countries do so. 

Eligibility requirements for admission to the civil service should be toughened. We need to conduct full certification of civil servants at all levels. It is important to establish a systematic work on defense of the principles of meritocracy and prevention of corruption. For this end, a separate autonomous unit to combat corruption should be formed in the structure of the Agency for Civil Service Affairs. Meritocracy should become a universal principle not only for the state apparatus but also for the entire public sector, including the courts, law enforcement agencies, national companies and holdings

We need to develop a new Law on Civil Service and to introduce amendments to the Law on Combating Corruption. State service shall be the basis for strengthening the unity of our society. Public service should become a prototype of the just Kazakhstani society where all people, regardless of ethnicity, are given equal opportunities for self-realization based on the principle of meritocracy.

Second - the rule of law that shall guarantee property rights, create conditions for entrepreneurial activity, for protection of contractual obligations and that will eventually become the basis for the economic growth.

Today weaknesses of the judicial system - the selection of judges, inefficiency of qualification requirements for judges, which often leads to corruption activities in the judiciary corps. The judges should not be closed to public criticism. Transparency is a cure for corruption in the judicial system.

The work of the organs of internal affairs is also cloudy. The policemen’s work should raise the public trust in them. Today, citizens have little belief that the officer of traffic police can fine a mayor or a minister for a traffic violation. There is a recent example of the US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was fined for not cleaning the snow in front of his home.

Therefore, it is necessary to raise the status of the police and its responsibility before citizens. It is necessary to develop a package of measures to ensure the transparency of law enforcement organs, the development of information technology, equipment of patrol services with DVRs. It is important to introduce a new system of professional and psychological selection of the police and to ensure regular improvement and confirmation by policemen of their qualifications.

We should toughen eligibility requirements for judges. A candidate applying for a place in the judiciary corps must have at least 5 years of experience in the judicial system, and not as a notary, but in the police or a law school. Candidates must pass a strict selection test as a condition for judicial internship conducted in courts on the liberated base and at least for one year. Any superior judge must complete a work in the lower courts. It is also important to introduce for beginner judges a trial period lasting at least one year; after the successful completion of this period, the best ones will be selected as judges.

Foreign and domestic investors should be sure of the validity of the Kazakh justice. In order to increase the credibility, it is necessary to attract foreign judges for consideration of investment disputes, and to consider such disputes in accordance with the best standards of foreign and international courts.

Special issue - modernization of the Armed Forces. They should be modern, mobile, professional. Combat capability of the army should be enhanced by professionalism and equipped with advanced weapons and technology.

Third - Industrialization and economic growth based on diversification.

Professional civil service and the rule of law create conditions for the implementation of a set of economic reforms to accelerate the formation of the middle class. To achieve a qualitative growth and diversification of the economy, we are implementing a program of industrialization. It is an extremely timely and necessary measure. Industrialization is not just a tool of the economy, but also an important factor in the development of the state and formation of a middle class. However, industrialization and manufacturing sector have not yet become a real driver of economic growth. The government needs to work on this.

There are distortions in the system of state support for agriculture. The agricultural sector is allocated with huge funds from the budget to subsidize production of goods with low added value. Moreover, rural producers almost do not pay taxes. Today, it is important to develop the manufacturing sector of agricultural raw materials on the basis of the new complex program. In this regard, it is necessary to launch about 10 large-scale projects involving transnational companies in the processing industry. Industrialization is also aimed at the creation of workplaces through small and medium enterprises and the development of export potential of the country.

Now customs procedures are time-consuming, tariff policy is complex and confusing, non-tariff barriers are contrary to international practice. It is required to carry out a large-scale work on simplification of the tariff policy within the Eurasian Economic Union. The main task is to ensure the dynamics of economic development in the future. The outcome of this work should be the emergence of 3-4 new export products as a result of diversification of the economy.

A key focus is the development of the service sector of small and medium-sized service companies. We need to adopt a new program for the development of tourism. This is an important question of absorption of surplus labor resources in rural areas. We have weak urbanization. 43 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

In the course of the integration policy of Kazakhstan, the most important tools for expansion of involvement of our economy into the world economic relations were formed in previous years. The process of creation of a financial center in Almaty should gain greater momentum. It is important to legislate the special status of Almaty.

Fourth, the Nation of the common future.

We have achieved a remarkable success in the development of our own model of stability and concord. The Constitution of Kazakhstan ensures the equality of rights of all citizens irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion and social status.

At the same time, we need to further strengthen the Kazakhstani identity. It should be based on the principle of citizenship. All citizens must enjoy same scope of rights, bear same burden of responsibility and have access to equal opportunities. Consolidating values on the basis of the Idea “Mangilik El” - the civil equality; diligence; honesty; the cult of education and erudition; the secular state – the state of tolerance. In this case, the citizenship will be the safest foundation for the stable and successful state.

The development of triunity of the Kazakh, Russian and English languages - a pledge of consolidation of the society and improvement of its competitiveness. We need to provide effective social lifts for all citizens of Kazakhstan without any distinctions and restrictions. Our main aim is to encourage Kazakhstani people to put new whole nation values, such as supremacy of law, state traditions, Kazakhstani values, above own ethnical behavioral models. The unifying idea for all Kazakhstanis is the Eurasian idea that synthesizes in the Kazakhstani the best qualities of Asians and of Europeans.

The middle class should be considered as the basis of the Kazakhstani nation, the source of formation of professional state apparatus. It is a driving force interested the most in the supremacy of law, state accountability before its people and stability of the country. This is a reason why the middle class is the core in the formation of the national identity. The idea of Mangilik El should be seen as the system of general civil values drawn in the most important document of the state. Teaching of all Kazakhstani idea of “Mangilik El” should be included into the teaching program in the schools.

Representatives of 17 religions live in our country in peace and mutual consent. The most widespread among these religions are Islam, Orthodoxy and Protestantism. Hanafite Islam that was historically formed on the territory of Kazakhstan is distinguished for moderation, tolerance and healthy interpretation of Islamic values. Orthodoxy which most of the Slavic population in Kazakhstan is aligned to puts the issues of dignity, moral choice of a human, kindness and compassion at the heart. In recent years, the number of followers of Protestant Church grows in Kazakhstan. For Protestants, successful and productive work, values of saving and virtuous life are at the centre of human life. Thus, each religion has its own advantages. They should always bind the Kazakhstani people together, serve for peace, concord, development of the society and the economy and strengthening og the state.

Fifth - a transparent and accountable state.

The Kazakhstani society gradually adapts to changes. It is an important factor allowing us to avoid aggravation of internal contradictions and to strengthen the political stability. According to the experience of many countries, the violation of the principle “a strong state and economy first, then politics” leads to catastrophes, breaks the society. In some countries, the political regimes fall down, in others, the economy collapses, conflicts and even civil wars. We know this perfectly from the history of many countries and, today, we see this in many states. Last civil wars and bloody conflicts in the different parts of the world show that ill-considered and forced democratization does not ensure stability of the state and successful economic modernization.

Five institutional reforms - five steps that our country needs to take in this sequence. Only in this case, our reforms will be effective, and the society and country united and stable. All successful states passed this way.

First of all, we need to expand the practice of accountability of heads of state bodies. Second, the decision-making process should be transparent. Through the mechanism of “open government”, the citizens should be actively involved in the process of decision-making conducted by the state bodies of all levels. A new Law on access to public information that is to be elaborated and adopted would become a basis for this. The role of public councils under state bodies and mayors should be strengthened. Third, we need to introduce civil budgeting. This means the participation of representatives of civil society in allocation of funds in the regions. Forth, the system of appeal needs to be reinforced. Opportunities of citizens to appeal of state servants’ activities must be extended under the legislation. Fifth, wide introduction of self-regulation in the society should be provided. We need to reduce the areas of responsibility of state bodies delegating authorities related to provision of socially significant state services to the institutes of civil society when they are prepared.

Achieving positive results on these five directions, we will be able to address the issue on a new system of elections of local executive bodies. The constitutional reform should be conducted gradually that would re-distribute powers from the President to the Parliament and the Government with consideration of our traditions.

These five reforms create conditions for strengthening of Kazakhstani statehood and the entry into the top 30 most developed countries of the world. This is a path towards implementation of “Strategy-2050”. Each of five institutional reforms is a big challenge and extensive work for our country. The success of such reforms can be provided only under the strong will of power and people. As the international experience show, it is required 40-50 years of steady development to build a strong state, developed and liberal society.

Suggested measure will dramatically change the system of public relations. To conduct them, I propose to establish a National Commission on Modernization under the President of Kazakhstan. It will coordinate the realization of the whole complex of reforms. Thus, our central task for the forthcoming years - to start and to gradually implement these five institutional reforms.

Dear Kazakhstani People!

In a few days, I received very many letters from the citizens, labor collectives, educational institutions, public associations of our country to support the early presidential election and the request to propose my candidature on this election. Thank you all for your appreciation of my work for the benefit of Kazakhstan and Kazakhstani people! There is no much reward for me as such trust of my people. I heartily thank you all who spoke kind words about me from the tribune of this Congress.

I declare my consent to stand as candidate from the “Nur Otan” party on the upcoming Presidential election. I urge you, my fellow party members, all Kazakhstanis to team up and win again! Our common spiritual power and highest aim is Mangilik El – Eternal Motherland! It will imbue our development in the XXI century with the energy of progress.

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