We are launching Kazakhstan's Echo as a new project designed to bring our readers a sense of the diversity of opinions from Kazakhstan and on Kazakhstan.
A Nation with the Vision
Strategy of Development
By Chester A. Newland
Distinguished Professor of Public
Administration University of Southern
The Republic of Kazakhstan has wisely chosen
to avoid narrow social, economic, and political
ideologies to guide its development under
STRATEGY KAZAKHSTAN 2030, undertaken
five years ago. It has sought incrementally to
develop (1) responsible constitutional
government oriented to a rule of law,
(2) a responsible market-oriented economy,
with productive private and public enterprise, and (3) social self governance and growth of social capital among people and their local, regional, and national (Republic-level) communities.
Kazakhstan's accomplishments under its Strategy 2030 during the past five years have been highly impressive in all three respects identified above. Most encouraging is the clear fact that responsible officials are continuing on a steady, incremental strategy of improvements -- not claiming victory over continuing problems, despite strong evidence of steady progress toward ideals. It now appears promising that Kazakhstan's greatest long-term challenge may be to live with success, following extremely difficult years in the 1990s.
Consider specific examples. Kazakhstan has established a State Civil Service framework that is oriented to professional expertise, merit, and career staffing. This government-wide institution is designed to help escape fragmented, ineffective staffing problems that dominated the past. The Civil Service framework is now sufficiently established that efforts may now be turned toward a Customer-Service Culture of Responsive, Responsible Service to People and Organizations. Improvement efforts are now oriented to reasonable limits on bureaucratic levels, size, rules, and paperwork.
Contrast challenging conditions of five years ago when Strategy Kazakhstan 2030 was started with those of today. As late as 1998, in formulation of the Fiscal Year 1999 Budget, 33% cuts in governmental spending were the order of the time. Selective deferral of infrastructure projects was required as responsible financial and budgetary actions. Borrowing was essential. Today, by contrast, Kazakhstan has become able to limit international indebtedness, and it is building treasury and central bank reserves that may compare reasonably favorably with successful Eastern European nation states.
Also, Kazakhstan is now moving ahead with physical developments. The new capital city, Astana, appears as a metaphor of national transformation, characterized by striking new-city design and construction of new infrastructure and buildings. At the same time, Almaty continues improvements as a major metropolis.
Now, Kazakhstan is turning increased attention to Rural and Territorial Development along with Regional and Local Governance. As noted earlier, it is encouraging that the President and other officials know and acknowledge the dimensions of serious unemployment problems and related social and economic challenges, especially among rural people. Extensive infrastructure and social safety-net improvements are needed. Instead of hiding problems, Strategy Kazakhstan 2030 seeks to deal steadily with them. After five years of this effort, it now appears that Kazakhstan may reasonably develop enhanced MONITORING of Strategic Plan Policies and their Implementation. In short, Kazakhstan is now in a position to benefit from Policy and Program Evaluation.
Most promising, I think, is the relatively open, informed, knowledge-based culture of social self governance and disciplined enterprise that has largely characterized Kazakhstan's people during the extremely tough times in the 1990s and now amidst the Republic's growing prosperity. Social, economic, and political problems, hopes, differences, and shared perspectives have been and continue to be expressed increasingly freely and frankly. In short, foundations of an advanced-knowledge culture and balanced development of constitutional self-governance are evident in accomplishments under Strategy Kazakhstan 2030 and in continuing efforts to meet challenges through balanced, steady development.
While trying to tend to internal challenges of nation building, Kazakhstan has embraced international responsibilities. From Kazakhstan's initial emergence as a nation, when the Republic provided leadership in eliminating nuclear weapons, to today in international efforts to deal with terrorism, global migrations, and other challenges, it has sought to serve as an example of steady, stable, and balanced involvement in world affairs. In many respects, Kazakhstan is reconciling today's paradox of Localization and Globalization through understanding of values of Place and Planet.
Professor Newland teaches at the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the Sacramento Center of the University of Southern California. He was part of the team of more than 40 Kazakhstan's and international scholars who in 1996 were commissioned by the President of Kazakhstan to produce a coherent plan for the long-term development of the country. President Nursultan A. Nazarbayev presented the plan, Strategy of the development of an independent Kazakhstan up to the year 2030, to the nation in October 1997. * * *
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