Talking points of the deputy director of the State Agency for Local Self-Government and Interethnic Relations Halitov M.G.

Talking points of the deputy director of the State Agency for Local Self-Government and Interethnic Relations Halitov M.G.

The Conference held on March 13-14, 2015, in Bishkek.

“Representative and executive bodies of local self-government. Partnership as a factor for development”

Over the past two decades, significant changes have taken place in all aspects of the existence and functioning of the society in Kyrgyzstan that affected public life, the state and public authorities. Local self-government, as one of the main manifestations of authorities in places has also undergone major changes. After the Soviet period, when the local self-government in all its diversity was formalized, the society had to accept this institution and learn to use it, by engaging in democracy.

Level of human development in the Kyrgyz Republic on its entire territory is determined by the development of local self-governments. Particularly here, at the level of local self-governments, important basic services are provided that create an environment for human development. Here an individual gets primary and secondary education, which to certain extent determines his/her future career; there are opportunities for personal development. Here primary health care is provided, following with disease prevention, basic determinants of human health are formed through maternal and child health. Particularly here, children are brought up, young generation develops, cultural and social identity of the citizens are formed including their skills. Here traditions emerge, live and disappear helping the person realize and to achieve a high level of development.

One of the main functions of local self-government is to organize activities independently for population to address socio-economic development, municipal education through local self-governments based on historical and other traditions. Today there are 453 ayil okmotu in Kyrgyzstan that independently and on own responsibility address local issues. Today we should note that some municipalities successfully and efficiently solve vital issues of population, develop villages and towns, create conditions for decent life.

A special role in improving the efficiency of local self-government should be assigned to interaction of the representative and executive bodies of local self-government, promotion and addressing issues of socio-economic development of the territories.

Today local self-governments solve social problems openly, on the basis of partnership, accountable and equitable way, taking into account the interests and initiatives of different groups of the local community. Especially in terms of distribution and use of municipal resources: pasture land, irrigation water, property, local budget.

In local self-governments where the deputies of local councils are aware of their socio-political role and are constantly working, where the executive bodies of LSG keep constant control over the local issues to be addressed, as well as general issues of socio-economic development of territories, stability and comfort are observed.

In Kyrgyzstan, the local self-government is mainly organized at the level of rayons, therefore the issue of structural and functional separation of representative and executive bodies of local self-government is very important. The alternative: either the administration of municipalities, so to speak, absorb the representative bodies of local self-government and then three different management functions, like rule-making, execution and control will merge into one body, and, most likely, in one person, the head of AO or the mayor of the city, or local councils will actually use all of their powers.

By its functions the representative body of local self-government should:

  • reflect and represent the interests of all social groups of the municipality;
  • implement rule-making in accordance with its mandate, prescribed in the legislation, as well as in the Charter of the municipality;
  • monitor the implementation of adopted regulations and generally the activities of executive bodies and local self-government officials.

To what extent the representative body of local self-government is fulfilling its mission? The answer to this question leads to a disappointing conclusion that there is a contradiction between the legal status and the actual situation, the role performed by local councils.

One of the most important factors in determining the status of the representative body of local self-government and its performance is the relationship of the deputy corps with voters, population of the municipality. However, in practice many representative bodies perform their primary function of reflection and accumulation the interests of their voters not in a full range. Often the role of deputies consists of “voting machine", those who register finished draft decisions. The whole range of reasons including legal, organizational, financial and personnel, historical, cultural and psychological factors contributed to this situation. Today in most of the municipalities we have so called situation of "strong mayor – weak council" or "council that has no rights", while in some ayil aimaks have "strong council - weak head of AO". In some municipalities the representative bodies become essentially a deliberative body under the head of the municipality, which in principle does not correspond with the mission of the local council, and vice versa.

What is the real status of representative bodies of local self-government in this case? What can and must be done to transition to optimal system of interaction between the mayor, head of AO and council? Problems of increasing the efficiency of the representative bodies of local self-governments are in close connection with the efficiency of the whole system of local self-government as a whole. Shortcomings in the work of representative bodies may negate all the progress in the work of the executive body and vice versa. That is why the effectiveness of local self-government depends on the interaction, understanding and coherence of the different powers of government. In this case, the unity of self-government cannot mean the absence of its internal structure. Under current legislation, heads of the executive bodies of local self-government elected by the deputies of local councils and sometimes accompanied by corruption. As issues of election and dismissal of the heads of the executive bodies of local self-government depend only on the local deputies, who are very easy to bribe. There are cases when some ayil aimaks cannot elect the head of AO for a long time. For this reason, local councils are dissolved. For example, the last calling of Kadzhy-Sai village council, Ton rayon, Issyk-Kul oblast was dissolved for such reason. Kok Oi ayil kenesh of present calling, Jumgal rayon, Naryn oblast, was dissolved for two times.

One of the most important powers of representative bodies of LSG is the adoption of plans and programs for the development of municipal education, approval of reports on their performance. However, research and analysis of ayil okmotu activities shows that not all municipalities work on integrated strategic programming. We saw this in Talas and Naryn oblasts. Often managers of ayil okmotu just re-write plans from one year to the next by changing only few dates. Practice of engaging the deputies and, consequently, the population in decision making on development programs of the municipality shall be expanded. The function of strategic planning should be disclosed from the lobbies of the administrative system to life-giving initiative of population. Especially because this corresponds to the current legislation and Program of LSG Development in the Kyrgyz Republic 2014-2017.

Budget policy in the field must also be focused on the development and reduction of subsidized areas. It is necessary to focus efforts of the representative and executive bodies of local self-government not only on redistribution of national resources, but also to seek, build and effective use of available internal resources aimed at territorial development. Now in this respect the situation is not good. More than 80 percent of ayil okmotu are subsidized and receive subsidies from the state budget. What kind of independence we are talking about when the municipality is dependent on central bodies. We are certainly working on this issue both in terms of legislation and practice. But in the short term it would be difficult to improve the situation. For example, the current year planned subsidized only for 10 AO.

First of all, it is necessary to create such a situation where the possibility of default by the representative bodies of local self-government to execute their exclusive powers would be excluded, such as the adoption of plans and programs for municipality, the adoption of the provisions of the budget process, the adoption of mandatory rules on matters under the jurisdiction of local self-government, monitoring of the local budget, etc.

Secondly, it is necessary to expand the practice of use of local councils and their deputies' rights entitled by the current legislation. This relates to the issues as: control over the activities of local self-governments and local self-government officials; adoption of deputy inquiries; create deputy centers in the constituencies; foundation representative bodies in the media and others.

In general, we believe, and the Agency is working on these issues, only partnership between representative and executive bodies of local self-government in the future will provide stable system of financial and administrative independent of local self-governments in the Kyrgyz Republic that can improve quality of life of population through the provision of municipal services to a high level due to the presence financial resources and qualified personnel. And of course accountable to the public and transparent system of local self-government should be based on improved legislation, adequate territorial structure, trust and support of citizens.