Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 183

In his televised national address on September 30, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced his intention to further streamline government to increase ministerial accountability and government effectiveness (Russian agencies, September 30; Panorama [Almaty], October 2).

In its July 1996 report, the World Bank ranked Kazakhstan among countries with the highest level of government employment, with about 6.4 public employees per hundred–a total of some one million employees in total (Republic of Kazakhstan: Transition of the State: Volume 1, p. i). Since early 1997, the government has reduced by more than half the number of ministries and committees, and axed thousands of public-sector jobs. The most drastic changes occurred with the March 4, 1997 decree that reduced the number of ministries from twenty to fourteen and state committees from twelve to two. The twenty ministries fell to eighteen with the government change last October. Furthermore, on May 4 last year, regions were cut by five, from nineteen to fourteen, ousting 5,000 state employees and saving US$20 million (EIU Country Profile, 1998/9, p.19). Further downsizing has occurred with this year’s relocation of the capital from Almaty to Astana. In July of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Pavlov announced that 10,000 more state jobs would be axed (Vremya po grinvichy [Almaty], July 3).

Streamlining has undoubtedly helped cut budget expenditures. It is too early to tell whether it has contributed to effective government. Still at its embryonic stage, institutional reform–according to the 1997 United Nations Development Program report–has led to a delegitimization of state institutions in the eyes of the population. Citizens lack confidence in institutional longevity (UNDP Human Development Report, Kazakhstan 1997, p. 14). Furthermore, the move to the new capital of Astana has been accompanied by a confusion of responsibilities, as power distribution and job descriptions are in many cases still to be defined.–SC

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