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Kyrgyzstan’s new procurement law hides one third of public spending from scrutiny

For over 15 years, Kyrgyzstan was the only country in the region publishing data on the assets of civil servants and politicians, enabling civil society organizations (CSOs), journalists, and citizens to identify and monitor corruption risks. 

But as our peers at OCCRP have recently highlighted, there are increasingly worrying signs of a significant decline in transparency, accountability and freedom of expression. Data publication has sharply declined, with no consequences for officials who submit false information or even fail to submit any information at all. Whistleblowers and journalists are being threatened and jailed

On top of that, one-third of all budget expenditure will now be hidden away from the public’s eye because the new public procurement law no longer requires state companies to hold tenders or publish data on purchases. Also going into the chest of secrecy is information on what government bodies buy and at what price. Furthermore, the list of conditions under which goods and services can be purchased from a single supplier, without any tender process at all, was significantly expanded further undermining the efficiency of the procurement process. The studies in the EU show that single-bid contracts have been found to be both a governance risk and are on average 7% more expensive than competitive ones. The President of the country believes that open, competitive tenders are the cause of corruption. The World Bank research proves otherwise — greater competition not only tends to lower costs but also prevents collusion among suppliers.

90 CSOs rallied together and voiced their concerns in an appeal to the President but this, unfortunately, yielded no results. In such times it is essential to provide support to CSO community to amplify their voice. 

We are supporting CSOs to strengthen transparency by developing monitoring tools, training stakeholders to monitor contracts, and collaborating on research and advocacy. We highlighted the various ways that civic actors are using open contracting data and captured our concerns about the amended law in our latest article from Kyrgyzstan

“Just recently, in cooperation with the World Bank, Kyrgyzstan and Public Procurement Logistics Observatory, we have developed a business analytics tool in order to improve the student’s educational process at Kyrgyz State Technical University,” says Volodymyr Tarnay, OCP’s Program Manager for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Using the tool, students will be able to assess the effectiveness of the public procurement system and procurement practices of both state entities and the procurement system in general, identify market imbalances or vulnerabilities of entire sectors of the economy and propose solutions to these problems. 

“We believe that a new generation of researchers, civil servants, and policymakers equipped with proper knowledge and instruments will be able to generate high-quality research papers, policy papers, and recommendations. To eventually shift the decision-making process in the field of public procurement to the data-based manner. This should prevent impulsive decisions of policymakers and improve public administration at both national and local levels.”