In Kazakhstan, the fight against corruption is recognized as the most important strategic priority of state policy aimed at increasing the welfare of the people.
Kazakhstan realized that the effective eradication of corruption is impossible without the combined efforts of the world community, government agencies, business, the non-governmental sector and just active citizens. In this dimension, a new anti-corruption strategy of the country has been formed, developed on the initiative of the First President N. Nazarbayev. The implementation of universally recognized international principles and standards in the national practice of combating corruption is a key condition for the implementation of the recommendations of the UN and OECD.
The analysis shows that if the center of gravity shifts towards the use of force methods, corruption decreases slightly and temporarily, and the levels of its latency and sophistication, on the contrary, increase.
In this context, the example of China is indicative, where, despite the death penalty for corruption and more than 10 thousand executed officials, the situation has not changed fundamentally. Therefore, the successful strategies of the developed countries of Europe and Southeast Asia are based on a competent combination of prevention, education and criminal prosecution methods.
Today, approaches are changing, including the whole familiar algorithm of actions and the whole ideology of work in the field of combating corruption. All of the initiatives are implemented through the prism of values that we have clearly defined for ourselves. This is justice, integrity, trust.
Among the various aspects of trust can be identified as a key change in the attitude of citizens to corruption.
How the things are, can be judged by the following facts.
According to the study “Monitoring the state of corruption in Kazakhstan,” carried out this year by Transparency Kazakhstan with the support of the UN Development Program office, more than half of the respondents, namely 54.4%, noted a decrease in corruption in the country. 76% of surveyed entrepreneurs believe that in Kazakhstan it is quite possible to develop your business without giving bribes, and working exclusively in the legal field.
A growing number of citizens declare their willingness to take part in the implementation of measures to eradicate corruption. And not only in words. The number of calls to the Anti-Corruption Service about corruption is increasing annually. For example, over the past year, about 1000 people contacted the Agency’s call center on such cases, which is 3 times more than in 2018. If in 2018, according to such reports, 32 pre-trial investigations were launched, then only in 2019 the number of criminal cases increased to 66. These are important indicators of increasing the level of confidence in the state’s anti-corruption policy.
It took centuries for European countries to reduce to the minimum manifestations of corruption, but so far no one has managed to completely get rid of it. Many European experts emphasize that, despite the measures taken, corruption in the EU is wider and deeper than it appears. Thousands of cases of bribery, malpractice and embezzlement are investigated annually. Special reports and reports of international organizations, and studies showing widespread corruption are regularly published in various fields of activity, and not only in the developing countries.
Kazakhstan has chosen the right strategy for combining the practice of holding accountable those involved in corruption with the consistent development of prevention and integrity in society. The results are obvious. According to The Worldwide Governance Indicators, the World Bank’s annual study on Kazakhstan’s corruption control indicator, Kazakhstan almost doubled its performance in 2018 compared to the previous year. In the global competitiveness rating IMD (IMD World Competitiveness Ranking) in terms of anti-bribery and corruption indicators, Kazakhstan has the best indicators not only compared to other CIS countries, but also compared to countries such as South Korea, Israel, Spain and others.
Kazakhstan received 34 points in the Corruption Perception Index out of 100 possible and took 113th place among 180 countries, improving performance compared with last year by 3 points and 11 positions.
Each country has its own characteristics and differences. In its desire to reach the level of states with a low level of corruption, Kazakhstan began to actively use proven approaches and principles, as well as universal mechanisms and tools to achieve this goal.
The next step in this direction was the accession to GRECO [Group of States against Corruption]; this will attract the expert potential of the Council of Europe to further improve the national anti-corruption system.
In general, a lot has been done. Large-scale automation has reduced the level of corruption in public services by more than three-quarters, and significantly increased access to justice for citizens. A thorough cleansing of the state apparatus from corrupt officials has been carried out, which allows the country to observe a steady decrease in corruption offenses in recent years.
In November last year, the President of Kazakhstan signed a law providing for the institution of resignation and personal disciplinary responsibility of heads of state bodies in the event of a corruption offense by their subordinates.
In particular, if an official of a state body is convicted of corruption, personal responsibility will be borne by his immediate supervisor. If these are political civil servants – ministers, vice ministers, relevant akims [governors] and their deputies – their resignation could be demanded and the President will have the last word. If in this role there is a head related to administrative civil servants, then he will be brought to disciplinary responsibility, up to dismissal. At the same time, the duty of heads of state bodies to prevent corruption offenses by their subordinates is introduced. Disciplinary action will ensue for failure to take these measures.
The same Law will restore anti-corruption expertise of draft legal acts both at the national and local levels with the wide involvement of the public in this work. Another form of increasing citizen engagement in the fight against corruption will be a change in the system of encouraging citizens for reporting corruption. If at present the maximum remuneration in such cases is 250 thousand tenge, then very soon this amount will increase to several million. In the near future, civil servants will again be allowed to use smartphones at workplaces, which will hopefully significantly increase the efficiency of work, including in matters of interaction with citizens.
Also, work will continue to address the fundamental causes of corruption, including in terms of reducing state participation in the economy, reducing cash flow, optimizing government agencies and their subordinate organizations in order to significantly increase the remuneration of civil servants, as well as reducing the oversight functions.
Other legislative measures have been initiated, the integrated implementation of which will drastically reduce the level of corruption. The key ones are the introduction of liability for illicit enrichment, the obligation of all civil servants, without exception, to publish declarations of income and expenses, as well as the introduction of the Integrity Testing Institute, in other words, the verification of professional integrity.
Following the letter of the law is the comprehension and understanding of its spirit. With this ability, a person differs from a machine that works exclusively within the framework of a given algorithm. It is the spirit of the law that determines the expediency of certain actions. Kazakhstan proceeds from the fact that respect for the law is unthinkable without such a fundamental moral value as integrity.
Integrity is the cornerstone of the entire modern public administration system, focused on the priority of public interests. It is a mature anti-corruption culture of citizens and good law enforcement practice. This is what the OECD policy is built on. Without this, massive social change will not take place. Integrity implies a decisive rejection of all that impedes the movement towards an open and fair society.
As a first step, Kazakhstan considers the development of a methodology for determining the public integrity rating of state bodies, which will reflect the level of openness, transparency and accountability of state bodies. Integrity should be a key moral value for public servants.
And not for them only. For example, in some national companies independent compliance services have already begun to work, designed to serve as an effective integrity tool in the quasi-public sector. /// nCa, 25 February 2020