: / Analytics / Local Governance Assessment in Kyrgyzstan (2005)

Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

3.2 Local governance analyses

General issues
After a slow start, the development of local governance in Kyrgyzstan is now well-established and functioning. The present assessment covered only one specific aspect of local governance financial accountability in local budgeting process. Therefore, most of the findings are about the mechanisms of AO accountability.
In an environment that is relatively supportive of financial decentralization and the independent operation of AOs, interaction with local district controlling bodies is not productive. The majority of respondents describe numerous external interventions in local budget management processes by state intermediary institutions. Financial managers and accountants still need to obtain an authorization for any financial transaction from the district finance department. Most of the AOs who have undergone some specific trainings on budget literacy and legislative knowledge have expressed their discontent with the situation, which is not changing. Some respondents believed that one of the reasons for such resistance could be the low capacity of the AOs to manage budgets, but it may not be the only one.
..everything still works using a top-down approach; all the figures are being controlled and
limited. district and province financial departments exist on our money. They should be closed and the local budget should be direct and financed by the state and local funds.- Dilyara Kenjaeva, Director of the school, AO Novopavlovka, Chui.
The relations with the district finance department are not properly documented. They always interfere with the financial activity of the AO. To be more specific, they order the allocation of some funds for different unplanned events. Therefore, most of the money of the AO is being expended improperly. Nurjamal Hajimatova, Accountant, AO Akman, Jalalabad
Another problem is that citizens are not active in expressing their views and influencing the budgetary decisions of the AOs. This was clearly mentioned by the most of respondents during FGDs. In the FGDs there were also some comments by citizens had criticizing the AOs for the low transparency of budget operations. The facts revealed from interviews with leaders, however, indicate that the population is not ready to participate and not interested in the activity of the AOs.
Finally, based on the analyses of the qualitative information from the FGDs, it could be said that citizens and AK deputies need more training on budget literacy. As a result of the low skills profile in this particular field, local governance is still being managed by a single person at the AO. In most of the cases, the AK and active citizens are playing a consultative role rather than a collaborative role.
Difference in LG development between South and North.
The analyses of local governance in two districts of two provinces, where one is taken from the Northern zone and one from the Southern zones, demonstrate a difference between the comparatively developed North and under-developed South. According to the data received, the level of capacity development and citizens participation in the decision making process is obviously higher in the Northern AOs. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, it is important to note that AOs in the North have a smaller population and lower population density, making their task to manage the local budgets easier. Most of the labor force work in urban centers and, as a result, local social services capacity is relatively small. In the South, however, the budgets are almost the same (see Diagram 10), but situation is different because the population mainly resides in their homelands. The average population of the southern AOs is almost twice or even three times more than the Northern ones. Therefore, the small budgets are usually not sufficient to cover all the needs of the AO.
Second, the fact that the AOs are seeking follow-on funding to develop their sustainability indicates that they are very enthusiastic about obtaining new skills through specialized trainings. The old top down approach, however, is better established in this part of the country. The discussions held in the focus groups with the Ayil Keneshes and AO staff revealed a strong influence of the AO leaders on the activity of both groups. In some cases, it was mentioned that the AO leader acts on behalf of the AK deputies and even heads it in one instance.
We have a weak Ayil Kenesh, since the most of the decisions are taken by the AO director. He actually chairs our AK and we cannot influence him. Last month, twelve of us wrote a letter to the province mayor but we still do not have any answer Abdykadyr, Bayish, AK Deputies, members of the budget commission, AO Akman, Bazarkorgon dsitrict, Jalalabad.
The weakness of citizen participation in the Southern pilots could also be a result of a more centralized structure of local authorities. Leaders of the LSG bodies suppress the initiatives from the bottom. Without such influence, citizens initiatives and their willingness to participate in the process might increase.
From the information represented above, it seems that pilot AOs differ between the two zones. This raises an interesting question about the unbalanced capacities of the AOs. How the project chooses to answer these questions, during the next stage of strategy planning will influence its final success. Following that, the project may want to introduce new strategic choices to promote alternative sustainable accountability mechanisms for the AOs.
Findings from the use of the RC system
The present Report Card system was used for the first time to assess the local budgeting process in Kyrgyzstan, therefore it is early to rely upon any comparative analyses between baseline study and present assessment.
The findings from use of the report cards can be illustrated in several formats. Each of them is to be used in different project planning activities or in practical work with its beneficiaries.
The primary format is the main Report Card format. It consists of 14 assessment criteria, each corresponding to a specific indicator. 34 models were prepared in all for AOs where the actual survey was undertaken. Each of the models was consolidated from the scores of each respondent group. The scores were weighted by two external facilitators scores. These formats are useful when any particular AO is to be researched for any detailed analyses. They also could be used as a self-evaluation tool by the AO leaders after some minor changes and adaptations are made.
The secondary format illustrates the average percentage of respondents who gave their responses to each assessment criteria from the Assessment scale. Scores range from 0-4 and should be distributed by each assessment criteria.
The group data sheet includes the average scores from one group of the AOs. It uses the same parameters which were given in the Primary format. Four general data sheets were prepared: two non-pilots and two pilots. These sheets allow analysts to look for the average scores of one group of AOs, differentiated by the region (North-South) or relevance to the pilot project (pilot/non pilot). This format is helpful in making any comparative analyses within the selected group of AOs.
The Final Format consolidates the average scores from the four groups and reflects the summary of the scores for each assessment sub-category corresponding to the key performance indicator. It is used to make general analyses and/or strategic activity plans for the future.
Recommendations on using report cards in the next stages:
i. While progress on this front needs to be explored in greater detail during the next assessment, there is definitely evidence from AOs to be gathered in later stages of their development. The next assessment stage is suggested to use the same methodology and survey techniques to track changes in the capacity of pilot AOs to perform effective budgeting.
ii. The report cards need to be re-verified before each assessment takes place. Its contents should correspond to specific performance indicators and should assess them appropriately. The report cards should undergo a pre test with the selected AOs before the actual survey begins.
iii. The best way to commence a report card survey is to do it in combination with focus group discussions. A good time to disseminate the report cards and facilitate the scoring exercise is after the FGDs. The respondents will then have an opportunity to record their findings and views during the discussion.
iv. The report card system could be introduced as a self-accountability tool for the local governments. By revising its contents or narrowing the number of statements, it could be simplified to five or six main statements and used to gather the opinions of the population regarding particular issues that concern the management of the AO.