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

Transparency Kazakhstan experts have studied the process of public discussion of draft laws on the portal «Open Laws», where, according to the legislation of Kazakhstan, all state bodies are required to publish draft laws before their adoption.

To compile the Index, 11,956 draft regulatory legal act, 14,406 comments from citizens and companies and 13,699 responses from government agencies-developers were uploaded and analyzed, and the content of the projects was compared with the adopted regulations.

As a guideline, the draft law plan of the Government of Kazakhstan for 2020 was used, according to which 10 ministries pledged to adopt 22 laws in 9 spheres of public relations.

In addition to the 22 laws provided for by the plan of legislative work in 2020, 11,959 draft laws were published for public discussion in these nine areas of public relations. In particular:

  1. Taxes and Finance – 1,837 regulatory legal act projects,
  2. Social security – 2,071 regulatory legal act projects,
  3. Natural resources and ecology — 908 regulatory legal act projects,
  4. Tourism and sports — 108 regulatory legal act projects,
  5. Economics, economic activity — 5,677 regulatory legal act projects,
  6. Culture, religion, mass media — regulatory legal act projects,
  7. Military accounting and security — 367 regulatory legal act projects,
  8. Industry – 376 regulatory legal act projects,
  9. Licensing and accreditation – 60 regulatory legal act projects.

In total, 13,906 draft laws were published for public discussion in 2020, taking into account the above-mentioned 11,589 draft laws.

The vast majority were developed by akimats and maslikhats, which, after the adoption of laws or orders at the central level, are obliged to approve the relevant decisions and resolutions within their region.

The following ministries became leaders: healthcare — 554 regulatory legal act projects, industry and infrastructure development — 431, education and science — 336, finance — 366.

In the regional ratio, akimats of Akmola – 1,080, Aktobe – 1,504, East Kazakhstan — 1,936, West Kazakhstan – 933, Kostanay – 1,811, Kyzylorda – 1,075, North Kazakhstan – 1,313 regions developed the most projects of the regulatory legal act.

The main number of bills concerned the economy, social security issues, taxes and finance, and natural resources and ecology. Citizens and companies took the greatest part in the discussion of draft laws in the field of social security — 63.5 points, economy — 46.7 points, military registration and security — 37.6 points, culture, religion, media — 36 points and industry — 36 points.

The index of participation in the discussion of draft laws by the end of 2020 amounted to 38.9 points. Compared with the results of the 2018 study, there is an increase in the involvement of citizens and companies in the public discussion of draft laws by 9.3 points (29.6 points – 2018).

There is a positive trend among the participants of public hearings and discussions themselves. So, if two years ago 95% of the regulatory legal act projects were commented on by one person, then by the end of 2020 the number of participants exceeded 500 new individuals and legal entities. The ratio between the participants is distributed as follows: men — 55%, women — 23%, legal entities — 42%.

On the part of government agencies — developers of draft laws, different dynamics of readiness to conduct a dialogue and accept comments and suggestions from citizens and companies have been recorded.

During the quantitative analysis, a high ratio of comments from participants in public discussions and responses from government agencies was noted. However, qualitative analysis has shown a tendency to decrease the willingness of state bodies to provide correct answers that correspond to the essence of requests, comments and objections. In comparison with the results of the 2018 study, we can note an increase in the number of technical and incorrect responses from government agencies.

An analysis of communication between participants in public discussions showed that comments were received from citizens and companies, which can be combined into two groups:

Conceptual: objections, agreement, support, suggestions.

Technical: outdated norms, do not put on the loss of a previously adopted similar regulatory legal act, numbering of a single application, errors in the names of settlements, lack of details of normative acts, etc.

A qualitative analysis of requests and responses showed that the proportion of incorrect comments from citizens decreased in comparison with the analysis period of 2018, and the proportion of incorrect responses from government agencies to comments from citizens and companies increased. The most common responses from government agencies were:

  • Will be accounted for or accounted for
  • A response that does not contain an answer,
  • Answers that do not match the questions,
  • Willingness to consider the offer some other time, etc.

It should be noted that amendments to the legislation on the development of regulations did not have an impact on reducing the array of technical errors of state agencies — developers, the share of re-published draft regulatory legal act due to grammatical, stylistic and legal errors increased from 6-8 times for one project to 15-45 times for one project.

The absence of the results of scientific anti-corruption and linguistic expertise in the packages of documents during their actual conduct did not eliminate the problem of technical and legal errors.

According to amendments that have an impact on specific professional groups of the population, business or economic spheres of relations, there is a higher degree of mobilization on the part of legal entities and citizens associated with these companies. Over 100 proposals and objections to one document were received on these draft regulatory legal act, which could block further adoption of the draft regulatory legal act or could be ignored and adopted without taking into account the opinion of legal entities.

Thus, it can be stated that the norm on informing interested groups about the public discussion of regulatory legal act projects has had a positive impact on the degree of involvement of citizens and companies in the discussion of regulatory legal act projects.

On the part of government agencies, there is a decrease in involvement in the public discussion of their draft regulatory legal act by 13.8 points (75.8 points — 2018). The index of readiness of the authorities to discuss proposals in the framework of public discussions by the end of 2020 amounted to 62 points.

In order to determine whether citizens’ proposals were included in the final versions of the adopted regulations, Transparency Kazakhstan experts compared 14,406 comments and 13,699 responses from government agencies of developers on 5,225 projects, and then compared the draft regulatory legal act with the approved proposals with the adopted regulations.

Government agencies approved 54.8% of the proposals and comments. Of the approved 7,520 proposals of citizens and companies to 3,313 draft regulatory legal act projects, the final versions of the adopted 1,586 regulations included 2,325 ideas of citizens and companies.

The index of civil influence on the legislative process by the end of 2020 will be 23.9 points. In comparison with the results of the study, according to the results of 2018, there is a decrease in taking into account the opinions of participants in public discussions by 15 points (38.9 points – 2018).

As the co-founder and executive director of Transparency Kazakhstan Olga Shiyan noted, the main problem of the quality of the legislative process is a large amount of work. So, in 2020, according to the reference control bank of the regulatory legal act of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan, 61,493 regulatory legal act were adopted, of which 26,883 regulatory legal act were adopted for the first time, 17,810 were amended and supplemented, 16,800 were subject to loss.

«The pandemic period has not reduced, but increased the volume of lawmaking. It can be stated that government agencies have begun to ignore the comments of participants in public discussions less, but qualitative analysis shows that the answers have become formal or incorrect, nullifying the ability of ordinary citizens to participate in the public discussion of regulatory amendments or novelties, which is confirmed by the results of the index,» O. Shiyan said.

Experts also noted that in comparison with the previous study, there is a positive trend in increasing the transparency of the work of the websites of the chambers of Parliament. On the Open Government portal «Open Laws», not all draft laws are published in sections designated as «Categories», as a result, many projects are not indexed when searching by category.

The analysis of the websites of state bodies showed the continuation of the trend of low transparency based on the results of discussion by public councils of draft laws, their comments and suggestions.

Based on the data obtained and the analysis of trends, Transparency Kazakhstan experts have developed recommendations aimed at improving the quality of preparation of draft laws, reducing corruption and discretionary norms, as well as the quality of communications between participants in public discussions.

Proposed:

  1. To increase transparency on the website of the Reference Control Bank in the section of regulatory legal acts for Nur-Sultan, on the portal «Open Laws» in the section «Categories». The portal «Open Laws» has 4 times fewer draft laws than those adopted by regulatory legal acts in 2020. 13,906 were submitted for public discussion in 2020, 61,493 normative acts were adopted. For comparison, 15,936 draft regulatory legal act were submitted in 2018, 44,880 regulatory legal act were adopted at the end of the year.
  2. Review the procedure for the formation of a package of documents on draft regulatory legal act published for discussion. Provide for an explanatory note in the format of an accessible explanation of what consequences are expected as a result of the adoption of the draft regulatory legal act, as well as attach the results of scientific anti-corruption and linguistic expertise.
  3. Develop a quality standard or approaches to the preparation of detailed and reasoned responses to incoming comments, suggestions and objections from participants in public discussions of draft regulatory legal act.
  4. State bodies — developers of regulatory legal act publish reports of discussions of regulatory legal act projects on their Internet resources, including the results of discussions on the portal «Open Laws», with the public council and business associations.

The full research is available at this link

The presentation is available at this link