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As Kyrgyz Republic Commits to Reforms, Civil Society Must Monitor Implementation

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A spring pledge to make public services available online to Kyrgyz Republic citizens and businesses as part of a digital transformation program could make government more open, accountable and responsive to citizens, the Central Asian country’s government says.

Taza Koom, as the program is known, has two key elements.

First, the government plans to build connectivity infrastructure to provide greater access to affordable, high-speed Internet, including the most remote areas of the Kyrgyz Republic. The World Bank is already allocating USD 20 million for this kind of information infrastructure build as part of its Digital Casa project.

Second, the government plans to create a favorable environment for sustainable innovative development through improved legislation and regulation, automation of administrative processes and human and institutional capacity building. These will lead to increased accountability of government bodies and become an important instrument to prevent corruption, officials say.

Taza Koom can potentially push mining sector transparency forward. It aims to shift all government bodies’ databases to a single electronic platform that could improve inter-ministerial information and data exchange efficiency. The single electronic platform will provide opportunities to integrate international transparency standards such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which requires effective state agency coordination and automation.

These developments are a continuation of a trend toward reform in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Over the past years, the Kyrgyz Republic government disclosed important data on mineral resource governance and public financial management. These include a licensing cadaster with links to the legal entities’ database and an open budget portal, which provides regular information on each payment type and detailed receipts remitted to the state budget from companies.

Using these portals, citizens can review the type of license each mining company possesses, basic information on ownership structures and how much each company pays to the budget. These reforms boosted performance in licensing, taxation and revenue-sharing, according to the 2017 Resource Governance Index.

Parliament has also passed a new iteration of the Subsoil Law. It requires disclosure of beneficial ownership, community development agreements and licenses and licensing agreements for important deposits. The draft law, which aims to increase licensing transparency and allow citizens to scrutinize licensing specific information, can now only see minor editorial changes before final approval.

Now it is up to all stakeholders, particularly civil society, to actively engage with the government on implementation and monitor progress to ensure movement. And there is an emerging opportunity for forward motion—Prime Minister Sapar Isakov said 7 September the country will join the Open Government Partnership in the near-term. If the Kyrgyz Republic indeed becomes part of OGP, new platforms might be created to improve the quality of dialogue between government and civil society, allowing the latter to effectively contribute to improvement of mining sector governance and transparency.

Nazgul Kulova is a consultant for the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) in the Kyrgyz Republic.