¬Ż ÁšŚŮŁ: —“ņ“‹» / Analytics / Local Governance Assessment in Kyrgyzstan (2005)


Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

Executive Summary

The Kyrgyz Republic has prioritized good governance as a key component of its reform programs. The Governmentís commitment is reflected in progress on political, economic, and fiscal decentralization. As part of decentralization reforms, local self-governments were given an extensive mandate to manage local social and economic affairs, formulate and execute local budgets, administer local taxes, and perform a number of other functions. †To date, their actual institutional, financial and human capacities remain weak or largely unrealized. The issues of transparency and accountability of local self-governments are closely intertwined with participatory approaches in decision-making. Thus, the limited scope of capacity building activities with citizens and community groups is another serious challenge.† This has created a level of cynicism and frustration from civil society and citizen groups who are fatigued by activities that translate into little impact.
In order to assist the KR Government in overcoming governance challenges related to political and fiscal decentralization, the World Bank has engaged in pilot activity entitled ďStrengthen Local Governance and Accountability in ECAĒ to conduct pilot activities aimed at building a demand side for better government and strengthening citizen participation in the governance process.† In the Kyrgyz Republic, the activity aims to improve local governance and accountability by first building the capacity of AOs, AKs and local communities in the budget process and, second, facilitating citizen participation in local self government budgetary decisions.† The desired outcome of the pilots are to provide AO governments with the skills needed to independently manage their finances and test different mechanisms that enable citizens to participate in local government decision making.
††††††††††† In order to better assess the local needs, identify the Projectís priorities and shape major issues related to the fiscal and political decentralization, a baseline study was carried out in two provinces of Kyrgyzstan during April and May of 2004. After a year of operation, the pilot project was scheduled to undergo the mid-term assessment.
The assessment objectives where identified as follows:
-†† to develop and formulate the key performance indicators for assessing local governance in Kyrgyzstan. The performance indicators should be used to analyze the quality of the local budgets.
-††† to conduct a field-based assessment of the pilot activity by using the performance indicators set in the selected AOs.
††† Major findings of the field-based assessment include the following:
††† 1. Capacity building activity initiated by project had increased the competence of AOs and AKs in the local budget process. The pilot AOs which had passed specific trainings outlined in the baseline study became more proficient in budget-related issues. Although village residents and various community groups do not have much information about budgetary decisions taken by the AO, they ranked satisfactory the level of budgetary literacy of the AO staff and AK deputies. This means that AOs are becoming capable of effective budgeting and management of local resources.
††† 2. The citizens can better influence the main budgetary decisions. The assessment indicated that citizens from pilot sites now have a voice in the key budgetary decisions. After the assessment it was clear that citizens can be active and demand quality budgeting procedures.† As a result, the project should concentrate more on the development of information sharing mechanisms between AOs and citizens. Greater transparency might be achieved through information channeling to the public through the proven budget hearings, information stands, and public announcements in the local mass media. By increasing public access to the key budgetary decisions, the project may facilitate the preparation of effective budgets.
††† 3. Increased citizensí trust in the local governance reforms and the ability of AOs to do effective budgeting are apparent in the piloting AOs. Lack of transparency and accountability of AOs may not be a priority issue for the next phase in the Northern pilots.† This may still be necessary for the Southern pilots since the assessment indicated that some leaders retain an authoritarian approach to budget planning and are not accountable on key decisions. It is also important to point out that AO staff and citizens are now able to voice their claims and press for local reforms.
††† 4. The interaction between AO leadership/staff and district finance departments is still not well justified and formulated. This results in obstacles to effective budget planning. The web of relations between the AOs and District controlling units should be reviewed and considered in the planning of activities in the pilots. One possible way to solve the issue with non sanctioned interventions from the district state body is to provide the latter with more information on the pilot project activity.† Possible tools for such information sharing could be the facilitation of a round table meeting between AOs and district finance units devoted to discussion of the problems they usually encounter. These meetings could be formalized through documented agreements.
††† 5. The Northern pilots have more capacity to do effective budget planning and management. The key elements of their strengths are the budget literacy of the AO leaders and the activity of AK members. The participation of the citizen in decision making process is also high. The remarkable experience of the Southern pilots is a significant shift in approach to the budget planning. The AOs in the South are now more proficient in the budgeting processes than they were at the beginning of the project. The projectís next phase should emphasize activities related to the different approaches to capacity development in each region.†
††† 6. The Local Governance Performance Indicators were developed only to assess the local budgetary processes. It will be possible to assess local governance and monitor it constantly if the set of performance indicators will be expanded. The present set for assessing the local budgetary process has passed through several development stages (elaboration and discussions, field testing, practical implementation, discussion) before a refined version was ratified.
††† This version of the performance indicators should be verified again and adopted before the next assessment takes place. The criteria that should be used for the next stage are the following:
- The performance indicators should be updated and revised, building on those that were used for the baseline and present assessments.†
- A number of indicators, such as Ďparticipation of different age groups,í and Ďdifferent nationalities in the decisions process,í could be added.
- The set of indicators should be refined based on the three main dimensions of local budgeting: capacities of the AO to budget efficiently; citizensí participation levels; and accountability and transparency of the AO bodies.†††
- The indicators should be verified once again with the project team and key stakeholders.
- The indicators should be once again tested with AO leaders, AK and community members.
††† 7. The projectís strategy is formulated broadly and should place more emphasis on building the capacities of AOs in the budgeting process. There is a need to develop a more deliberate and well-defined strategy, taking into account many of the lessons learned from the pilot project so far. It is clear that the demand for trainings on budgeting skills is growing in the non-piloting AOs, while the pilot AOs require more advanced trainings on the specific skills that might be useful in preparation of quality budgets. According to the consultant, the projectís strategy should clearly articulate in what way the project will continue to develop its operations. There are two foreseeable strategies at this stage:
a. Expand the piloting more broadly through the involvement of new AOs and their capacity development.† This should address new coverage areas where these AOs will be the Ďmost advancedí in terms of budgeting issues.
b.††Continue to work with the existing pool of the pilot AOs to implement more capacity building activities by introducing an advanced budget management methodology, training modules and promoting citizen participation in the decision making process.
††† Special consideration should be given to the number and quality of trainings which AOs receive. The staff of the AO and AK should fulfill their roles in establishing transparent and accountable budgets. The project activities in the next stage should also concentrate on a review of the present training modules and an assessment of the trainersí skills. This may help to facilitate more active participation of the citizens in the trainings.