Kazakhstan Committed to Eliminating Corruption

May 9. Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan Committed to Eliminating CorruptionKazakhstan has been successful in its efforts to eliminate corruption. It has notably reduced the amount of corruption within its borders, according to an international survey.

The Corruption Perceptions Index for 2010, compiled by Transparency International, ranks Kazakhstan 105 out of 178 countries in the survey. This is an improvement of 15 places compared to last year’s ranking of 120.

The change is an enormous achievement since fighting corruption has been an important priority in Kazakhstan for years.

Kazakhstan was the first among the former Soviet countries to adopt the Law “On the fight against corruption” in 1998, which set out an array of methods to fight corruption. According to the law, all government institutions are responsible for combating corruption. Every five years, the country’s president adopts a new state program on fighting corruption. Kazakhstan initiated its latest five-year, anti-corruption program in March.

One specific anti-corruption measure will be a universal obligation to file tax declarations. Since the early 2000s, only public servants and their spouses had to file annual tax declarations. Efforts will also be taken to reduce illegal cash flows. Payment for most public services will be transferred to electronic formats, especially for payments for licenses and permits.

This program also mandates:

-Improvement of anti-corruption legislation;

-Undertaking appropriate state measures to reduce corruption;

-Improvement of law enforcement and judicial systems;

-Strengthened international cooperation in the field of counteracting corruption;

-The dissemination of anti-corruption messages in the media;

-Cooperation with civil society organizations;

The Kazakh government sees the perception of large-scale corruption as a threat to national security and a drag on economic progress. To crack down on corruption, the government has reduced the number of federally licensed activities (from 861 to 343) and established a strict order for inspections of private entrepreneurs by state agencies. Kazakhstan has ratified the U.N. Convention against Corruption in 2008 and has confirmed its willingness to follow international standards in the field of preventing and combating corruption.

Transparency International, which has acknowledged Kazakhstan’s crackdown on the corruption, is a respected observer on the issue. With more than 90 chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, TI raises awareness of the damaging impact of corruption and works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle it.

In his inauguration speech on April 8, 2011 President Nursultan Nazarbayev highlighted “an uncompromising fight against corruption” as his top priority for his next term. There will be more “rigid actions in place against corruption through criminal prosecution and eliminating loopholes in the laws,” he said. He also assured citizens that there would be “adequate protection of rights and properties of individuals and legal entities.”

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov tasked the Ministry of Communications and Information with “promoting the freedom of speech” as part of the anti-corruption campaign. In March, Massimov opened Facebook and Twitter accounts to boost his personal accessibility to the public in addition to his blog on the government’s website. He called the anti-corruption efforts “very important.”

Kairat Kozhamzharov, the head of Kazakhstan’s state agency for combating economic crimes and corruption (also known as the Financial Police), said the country has built an effective strategy for combating corruption.

“For solving this problem, we will use new technologies, Internet resources, mobile communications, various types of social research, seminars and training with the media and public institutions,,” Kozhamzharov said.

“Developing the Internet is the highest priority, including blogs, involving all members of the Government and heads of state agencies so citizens can have an opportunity to directly inform us and react to cases of corruption.”

Already, the strategy is showing remarkable results. In total, over the last two years, more than 40 officials at the national level, more than 250 officials at regional and city levels, including 39 Akims and their deputies, were charged with criminal offences.

Anti-corruption efforts also brought to justice top level officials. This shows that in Kazakhstan, everyone is equal before the law. Criminal cases were filed against a minister of environmental protection and a minister of healthcare, a chairman of the statistics agency, vice ministers of the ministry for emergency situations and the ministry of defense, the chairmen of the “Kazakhstan Temir Zholy,” “KazMunayGaz” and “Kazatomprom,”, resulting in convictions. Recently, six justices of the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan were discharged with corruption. Criminal cases were filed against them.

As a sign of promoting this priority through international cooperation, a three day international anti-corruption conference titled “Uniting Efforts in Returning Assets and Countering International Corruption” was held in Almaty on March 9-11, 2011.

More than 150 delegates from 60 countries, as well as representatives of major international organizations, participated. The basic idea of the conference was to strengthen international cooperation in the fight against corruption. The event focused on countering international corruption and included discussions about how to investigate and prevent corruption-related crimes.

This was the third such conference held in Kazakhstan. In September 2009, the Financial Police in conjunction with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development held an International Anti-Corruption conference on “Fighting corruption and good governance as conditions for economic and social development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.” In June 2010, the Agency, in cooperation with the OSCE Centre in Astana and others, organized another international anti-corruption conference titled “International mechanisms and instruments for combating corruption.”

Kazakhstan’s domestic efforts as well as international cooperation underline its serious determination for “zero tolerance” toward corruption, as it seeks dynamic modernization of the country and builds its fledgling democracy and the rule of law.