The establishment of the National Council on Good Governance in Kyrgyzstan is a positive step, but the body must remain independent and transparent
In a sign that Kyrgyzstan is making a serious effort to tackle corruption, the Kyrgyz government recently invited Transparency International to conduct an assessment of the National Council on Good Governance (NCGG), a body established by presidential decree in April 2003.
The assessment visit by Transparency International (TI), the first of its kind for TI in Central Asia, was undertaken jointly with IMPACT (Integrity Management and Programs for Accountability and Transparency), an NGO with expertise in this area. Using an assessment tool developed by IMPACT, the Anti-corruption Body Needs Assessment, the team interviewed a number of local and international stakeholders, producing a report that offers suggestions for enhancing the effectiveness of the NCGG. The exercise was well-timed as the Council is currently in the process of forming a secretariat.
The TI/IMPACT report calls on the Kyrgyz government to:
- Secure the Council's freedom to make policy recommendations: The Council must be free from political pressure, enabling it to objectively tackle corruption.
- Provide the Council with the necessary expertise: To remain credible and effective, the Council must be equipped with the professional capacity to implement real governance reform.
- Secure political will to implement the Council's recommendations: Any success will depend on the government's willingness to heed the Council's recommendations. This has been a stumbling block for initiatives in other countries.
- Ensure credible monitoring: The Council must operate transparently to retain the public trust. Civil society and the media must be able to freely monitor the council.
The Council's establishment, ground-breaking in the region, represents a major opportunity for the country. It is now up to the Kyrgyz government to take action to empower the Council. The government should also understand the public expectations that such an initiative brings with it: If the council fails, it will fuel public cynicism and undermine future efforts to deal with corruption.
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