On October 5, 2020, the President of Kazakhstan signed Decree 427 «On Some Issues Related to the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan». We at KZ.expert believe that the document should have a slightly different title — «On Some Issues Related to the So Called Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan».
To confirm this, let us comment on the text of the Decree’s appendix, specifically on «The Guidelines for the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan». It looks like the latter was prepared by Kayrat Kelimbetov himself (for it’s all too beneficial for him) and probably subjected to a minimal tweaking on the part of the Presidential Administration (chaired by Erlan Koshanov).
All these common efforts have resulted in an old Russian saying «no axe can cut out what a pen has written about». With that, the Guidelines prove that the new agency is going to do something while being responsible for nothing.
Let us quote several paragraphs from the Guidelines omitting those that have no significance or have to do with the Bureau of National Statistics (text in bold by KZ.expert).
«Chapter 1. General Guidelines
- The Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan (hereinafter the Agency) is a governmental body directly subordinated to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It performs the management in the spheres of strategic planning, of governmental statistical procedures, of conducting reforms and assessing the efficiency of the state agencies’ operations».
Chapter 2. The Mission, main tasks, functions, rights and responsibilities of the Agency
- The Agency’s Mission: to prepare materials and work out suggestions on developing reforms and to assist in their effective implementation; to manage state policies in the spheres of strategic planning and governmental statistical procedures; to participate in perfecting the system of state governance and the quasi-governmental sector.
- The Tasks of the Agency:
1) developing suggestions on forming and implementing state policies in the sphere of strategic planning;
2) participating in perfecting and modernising the system of state governance;
3) developing approaches to conducting reforms aimed to increase the competitive abilities of the country and the welfare of the people; (…)».
If we are to read the quoted paragraphs carefully, we will see that the agency is to «perform the management in the spheres of strategic planning, … conduct reforms and assess the efficiency of the state agencies’ operations» whereas its «mission» consists only of preparing «materials and working out suggestions on developing reforms» and assisting «in their effective implementation» as well as managing «state policies in the spheres of strategic planning», … and participating «in perfecting the system of state governance and the quasi-governmental sector».
Translated from the bureaucratic language, it means that the head of the newly created structure directly subordinated to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan wants to perform the management of strategic planning and of conducting reforms in the country as well as of assessing the efficiency of state agencies. Having said that, this person has managed to dodged any kind of responsibility beforehand.
And both Tokayev and Koshanov let him do it.
Moreover, they’ve given him an opportunity to boil down the agency’s task to preparing materials and giving advices. This clearly follows from «The Tasks of the Agency» where it is stipulated, yet again, that the agency will be involved in working out «suggestions on forming and implementing state policies in the sphere of strategic planning», participating «in perfecting and modernising the system of state governance» and developing «approaches to conducting reforms aimed to increase the competitive abilities of the country and the welfare of the people».
And that’s that.
However, if, in the part related to the mission and the tasks of the agency, Kayrat Kelimbetov’s bureaucratic camouflage may bot be too noticeable to a non-professional, in the part that speaks of the Agency’s Apparatus, it practically strikes one’s eye. To confirm this, let us quote some more passages from the Guidelines.
«25. The Agency’s Apparatus is chaired by the head of the apparatus. They are appointed and released from duties and conduct their operations in accordance with the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
26. The head of the Agency’s apparatus:
1) appoints and releases from duty the staff of the Agency upon agreement with the Chairman of the Agency — the heads of the structural subdivisions;
2) approves the directives of the Agency’s structural subdivisions upon agreement with the Chairman of the Agency;
3) furnishes the information/analytical, legal, material/technical and financial support of the Agency’s operations and territorial subdivisions of the Agency;
4) conducts general management in the sphere of the Agency’s public procurement, serves as the one organising public procurements;
5) manages the work on implementing the strategic plan of the Agency;
6) approves the operational plan developed on the basis of suggestions from the structural subdivisions as well as the annual and quarterly plans of the Agency (if necessary), manages their implementation;
7) furnishes the development of budget requests of the Agency, the presentation of the budget requests to the head of the central executive body that submits them for consideration to the Republican Budget Commission as well as the performance of some other procedures related to the budgeting process;
8) performs other functions imposed on him/her by the law and other normative legal acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan».
The cited text clearly shows that, as the Chairman of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, Kayrat Kelimbetov has envisaged and created a rescue sack for himself. De-facto, he is in charge of everything but de-jure bears no responsibility. It is the so-called head of the apparatus that is responsible for everything and is guaranteed to play the part of a scapegoat. With that, this person will have both the broader powers (in comparison with former executive secretaries of state agencies) and the responsibility attached to the position.
What surprises KZ.expert in this whole story is not the managerial far-sightedness, political cautiousness and bureaucratic accuracy of Kayrat Kelimbetov’s words and actions (as we all know, other kind of people cannot manage to survive in Akorda so successfully). What does surprise us is the fact that Head of the Presidential Administration Erlan Koshanov has approved the cited text of the draft decree while President Kossym-Jomart Tokayev has signed it.
In our opinion, it may mean one of two things. Either they do not care what they approve and sign or they do not realise that they have been taken for a ride as though children.