University of Central Asia and Kyrgyz Government hold National Round Table on 'Local Self-Government in Kyrgyzstan: State and Opportunities for Development'

Date: 19 February 2013
Other languages: Русский язык |

Effective local self-government is critical for democratic governance and economic growth.  This was the theme of a National Roundtable on Local Self-Government in Kyrgyzstan: State and Opportunities for Development organised by University of Central Asia’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) on 19 December 2012 in Bishkek.

The event was attended by Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tairbek Sarpashev, members of parliament Esengul Isakov, Kurmanbek Dyikanbayev, Abdimutalip Kochkorbayev; and the Deputy Head of the State Agency for Reconstruction and Regional Development, Shukrat Sabirov, as well as experts from the Apparatus of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. Sixty village council heads who had participated in previous regional events organized by SPCE also attended, contributing their superior understanding of issues, which made for lively discussion.

In his opening address, Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, UCA Director General noted, “The University of Central Asia is committed to supporting efforts to build capacity in good governance at all levels in the region. Our professional development certificate programme for civil servants provided civil servants with unique access to information and networking opportuntites.  This round table builds on UCA’s 2012 series of round tables with leaders of the 495 village districts of Kyrgyzstan to assess their needs and highlight opportunities for professional development.”

Vice Prime Minister Sarpashev (centre) addresses the forum

In the opening plenary session, Vice Prime Minister Sarpashev highlighted the importance of local government and the financial independence of local institutions, “Without addressing the problem of local administrations, there will be no sustainable development in the regions or in the country as a whole. Most of our people live in rural areas, so it is important for the Government to foster regional development, which, in turn, depends on the professionalism and integrity of local officials.” He went on to say that, despite budgetary constraints, the Government hopes to increase salaries of local officials, and “will support constructive local initiatives that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of local self-government.”

These sentiments were echoed in the comments of local government representatives.“We have to improve the professional level of officers in local administrations, and we have to increase their pay to retain them. It is worth considering establishing a dedicated agency to oversee and coordinate collaboration between central and local governments,” said O. Tamayev, Head of the Kara Jal Village Council of Ak Suu Raion in Issyk-Kul Olast.

Mrs U. Narysbayeva, Advisor to the Director of the State Agency for Construction and Regional Development, introduced the draft 2012 - 2017 Medium-Term Development Strategy for Local Self-Government.  Mr J. Bakirov, Head of the Department for Regional Monitoring and Development, noted that the Strategy would define directions for further development of local self-government; and create an enabling environment for citizens to participate in local government. The Strategy prioritises the interests of local communities to ensure that both government decisions and community programmes are relevant and appropriate.

A novel aspect of the event was the Bear Pit discussion organised at the studios of the Kyrgyz National Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation, which was rebroadcast twice to national audiences.

The bear pit discussion was broadcast on the National TV and
Radio Broadcasting Corporation

The round table was supported by the Promoting Stability and Economic Opportunity in Kyrgyzstan project, a two-year initiative to develop the capacity of local government officials, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by UCA and the Aga Khan Foundation, Kyrgyz Republic. The project has also supported three regional roundtables and training for aiyl okmotu personnel and the State Agency’s staff through SPCE’s Local Economic and Community Development Certificate programme.

Since 2006, SPCE has graduated over 11,000 students from Naryn oblast with professional and vocational qualifications in accounting, entrepreneurship, tourism development and applied languages that have improved their employment and income generating opportunities. The School is Central Asia’s first provider of post-secondary, short-cycle education with learning facilities in Khorog and Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Naryn and Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic; Tekeli and Taldykorgan, Kazakhstan; and Faizabad, Afghanistan.

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