The index of civic participation and influence on lawmaking was calculated in Kazakhstan

On the International Day against corruption, the branch of the international organization Transparency International in Kazakhstan presents the results of the study «Index of participation and influence on the legislative process».

To find out how active citizens are in discussing bills and how government agencies relate to this, social activists studied about 5,000 draft legal acts in 13 areas of public relations adopted in 2018.

The lawmaking procedure obliges the state bodies of Kazakhstan to publish each draft normative act on the portal «Open regulatory legal acts», where anyone with an electronic digital signature can leave a comment, question, comment or suggestion.

 «The government of Kazakhstan annually adopts a plan of legislative work, but in practice the number of adopted, changed and put at a loss normative acts is thousands of times larger», said Olga Shiyan, Executive Director of Transparency Kazakhstan.

In 2018, the state bodies of Kazakhstan worked out 44,880 regulatory acts, of which 22,048 regulatory acts were adopted for the first time, 13,594 were amended and supplemented, 9,238 were subject to loss.

 

Dynamics of legislative work by months of 2018

Over the past 4 years, the state bodies of Kazakhstan have worked out 179,638 regulatory legal acts, having adopted 86,642 new normative acts, 47 482 normative acts have been amended and supplemented, 45 514 have been put to loss.

 

Dynamics of the legislative activity of Kazakhstan by years

Given the productivity of the law-making machine, social activists used the plan of the draft government of Kazakhstan for 2018 as a guideline, in which 8 ministries pledged to adopt 18 laws in 13 areas of public relations.

In these areas of activity, in addition to the regulatory enactments provided for by the bill work plan, 4,963 bills were submitted for discussion. The vast majority are developed by akimats and maslikhats, which, after the adoption of laws or orders at the central level, are required to approve relevant decisions and decisions within their area.

Areas of public relations in which 18 laws should be adopted in 2018

The leaders were Kostanay, North Kazakhstan, Akmola, Almaty, Pavlodar and Turkestan regions, which published more than half of all draft legal acts in six areas of public relations.

Most of the bills related to budget, taxes, agriculture, transport, elections and health. However, in these areas, the activity of participants in public discussions was below average.

A high level of discussion was noted in the field of ecology and licensing, where every second bill was commented. The average level of participation in the discussion of bills was marked at 29.6 points.

Index of civic participation in the legislative process

At the same time, 95% of the comments were received on draft by-laws — orders of ministries, decisions and decisions of akimats and maslikhats. Citizens and companies of Kazakhstan did not actually participate in the discussion of laws, codes or decrees.

On the part of state bodies — developers of draft laws, different dynamics of readiness to conduct a dialogue and accept comments and suggestions of citizens and companies were recorded. In all spheres of public relations, the developers of draft laws from the Aktobe, Atyrau, Zhambyl and Mangystau regions most often ignored the comments of participants in public discussions.

In general, the willingness to discuss proposals is above average, amounting to 75.8 points.

 

Authority Readiness Index to Discuss Public Proposals

Government agencies, developers of draft legal acts in the field of historical and cultural heritage, on the issues of restoring the solvency of citizens and licensing activities have responded to all comments received.

At a high level, government agencies-developers of legal acts in the field of health care, housing and communal services, sports, and electoral processes held discussions. Least of all state bodies took into account comments in the field of transport, agriculture and fiscal relations.

In order to determine whether the citizens’ proposals were included in the final versions of the adopted normative acts, Transparency Kazakhstan experts compared 3,375 comments and 2,504 responses of government developers on 1 673 draft legal acts.

At this stage of the study, it was found that the number of incompetent answers from state bodies exceeds 3-6 times the amount of incorrect requests and comments of citizens.

For example, at a request to enclose a document in a bill, the maslikhat of the East Kazakhstan region said that they would not be able to invest, since it is at the development stage:

«Good day!! NAP project The Decision as well as the annex to the draft NAP (Action Plan) will be posted again in the coming days as the annex to the project (Action Plan) is currently at the development stages. Thank you for your interest and comment»(spelling and punctuation saved).

In turn, the Ministry of Finance, at the request to invest the draft republican budget, provided a detailed description of the text structure, but the project itself did not.

The most common violations for which comments from participants in public discussions were received were:

  • publication of draft legal acts without the attachment of documents,
  • violation of the terms of public discussion, reduction of the terms of public discussion of draft regulatory documents of a sub-legislative level, which are not covered by the rules of the Rules of public discussion of draft regulatory documents in terms of determining the draft urgent,
  • errors in the design of the requisite part of the documents, the timing of the adoption of the legal acts, grammatical and stylistic errors.
  • lack of understanding in which cases it is necessary to put or not reference LAWs at a loss,
  • lack of understanding of the calculation of introduced tariffs, taxes, obligations, tax increase contrary to the norms established by the Tax Code, lack of understanding of differences between types of taxes,
  • lack of understanding of the authority of akimats and maslikhats in approving local budgets of the fourth level, etc.

In some cases, government agencies, at both the central and regional levels, refused to consider recommendations for the premature development of by-laws of legislative acts on which higher laws had not yet entered into force. As a result, a few months later these normative legal act were put at a loss and then put up for discussion again.

Another common practice among akimats and maslikhats at the district and city levels was the development of new draft legal acts without setting the previous versions of legal acts to be lost, as well as the adoption of regulatory standards in violation of the requirements of a higher code regarding the restrictions on the time it takes to enter into force or the validity of this legal act. Thus, conditions were created for various interpretations and corruption risks.

To the conceptual objections and disagreements of citizens, state bodies — developers provided explanations or refused to accept the arguments for further work and accordingly their proposals were not included in the final documents.

For example, the Kerbulak maslikhat of the Almaty region responded to all requests and suggestions of participants in public discussions with the phrase:

«your comments will be taken into account! After the adoption and official publication of the NLA according to your comment, we will take appropriate measures to eliminate errors on the draft decision» (spelling and punctuation saved).

Similar «promises» were published by the Ministry of Finance, promising to consider the proposals of citizens and companies for amendments to the rules of public procurement … in 2019, after the entry into force of the order.

The results of the comparative analysis showed that out of the approved 1 840 proposals of citizens and companies for 1 072 draft legal acts, the final versions of the adopted 756 regulatory acts included 1 212 ideas of citizens. This means that every third proposal of citizens approved by the authorities is included in the normative legal act.

For example, the Ministry of Health listened to 122 objections to the draft amendments restricting the situation of people with diabetes. The draft order was not signed.

In general, the influence of the public on lawmaking in Kazakhstan is below average, amounting to 38.9 points.

 Index of civil influence on the legislative process

In conclusion, it is worth noting the level of incompetence of the authorities: more than 90% of the comments and observations concerned technical errors of the developers. On average, one bill at the regional or district level was put up for public discussion 2-4 times due to incorrectly formatted links, dates, reference legal acts, grammatical and stylistic errors.

But even without taking this factor into account, 2 times less bills were submitted for public discussion than adopted by the normative legal act in 2018. So, in 2018, 15 936 draft legal acts were submitted for public discussion, even if we take into account all the bills submitted earlier for public discussion in 2017 (13 127 draft legal acts were submitted in 2017), their sum is less than those adopted in 2018 — 44 880 legal acts.

Transparency Kazakhstan conclude that in Kazakhstan, despite the adoption of laws on access to information, procedures for public discussion of draft legal acts:

  • passive civic participation in legislative activities,
  • non-transparent procedures for discussing draft legal acts both on the portal and with public councils, professional associations or the Atameken national chamber, which are held without publishing their conclusions on the portal «Open regulatory legal acts» ,
  • further reduces the possibility of participating in a public discussion of draft legal acts an incomplete and generalized list of areas of activity on the portal «Open regulatory legal acts». For example, bills of law enforcement agencies are published in the section «military registration and security», which is not on the front page of the portal in the section «Categories».
  • it is misleading to publish draft local budgets on the portal «Open regulatory legal acts», and not on the Open Budgets portal, which is usually contacted by users who want to participate in the discussion of draft local budgets,
  • formal consideration by the authorities of proposals and comments on draft laws,
  • the lawmaking of the authorities is discussed at the level of technical errors, conceptual objections are often not accepted,
  • On average, one of the three approved comments is reflected in the final versions of the legal acts,
  • the government’s bill plan is often not implemented,
  • 1 person takes part in a public discussion of 99% of draft regulatory legal acts.

Based on what, Transparency Kazakhstan experts recommend:

  • actively participate in the discussion of draft legal acts. You can find out how to communicate with the authorities in the attached instructions.
  • carry out active legal explanatory work among the population about the opportunities to participate in the discussion of draft legal acts and influence the legislative process. Publish a draft law plan for free access.
  • increase the legal literacy of state bodies according to the procedure for the development, design of draft legal acts
  • publish reports on discussions of draft legal acts on their Internet resources, including the results of discussions on the portal «Open regulatory legal acts», with public council, business associations.
  • organize an anti-corruption examination and increase the transparency of the legislative process through the introduction of the concept of “lobbyism” and the subsequent lobbying law, which is a recommendation of the OECD Anti-Corruption Network, evaluated by international organizations Transparency International and GRECO.

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Over the past 4 years, the state bodies of Kazakhstan have worked out 179,638 regulatory legal acts, having adopted 86,642 new normative acts, 47 482 normative acts have been amended and supplemented, 45 514 have been put to loss.

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The results of the study «Index of participation and impact on the legislative activity of Kazakhstan» were sent to all government bodies through the «Open Dialog» portal. Social activists of Transparency Kazakhstan will monitor the situation in the future.

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The full study «Index of participation and impact on the legislative activity of Kazakhstan» can be read here.

The research methodology can be studied here.

Instructions on how to communicate with government agencies developing draft legal acts are published here.

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The study «The Index of Participation and Impact on the Legislative Activity of Kazakhstan» is the winner of the Innovation {and Motivation} Data Lab 2019, which was conducted by Internews as part of the MediaCAMP Central Asian Program project with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Media Contacts: transparencykazakhstan@gmail.com, тел.: +7 771 589 45 07