Decentralization and Local Governance in Kazakhstan

The paper argues that decentralization in Kazakhstan has limited capacity to contribute to good local governance. However, since the 1990’s decentralization has positively effected local governance in Kazakhstan. The key purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of decentralization in achieving local governance. Bhuiyan (2010) supports his statement based on the following reasons: lack of public participation in decision-making processes, dependency of local public administration on the authority of central administration, and a limited degree of fiscal autonomy enjoyed by local governments.

Firstly, the methodology is mainly based on literature review, such as published research, local reports, and websites. However, this method reveals only one side of the local governance in Kazakhstan. The real local governance context is more complicated. The author claims “Kazakhstan suffers from legal and political barriers to develop local self-government”(Bhuiyan, 2010, p.665). While this may be true, it is only one side of the issue, while there are other factors involved – citizens’ inactive attitude, low political awareness etc. It would be more efficient to survey local residents and public policy experts to obtain first-hand information and hear their voices.

Secondly, the article overemphasizes the positive side of the decentralization concept (Ostrom, Schroeder and Wynne,1993), while it fails to present alternative views. Numerous sources suggest rather the opposite. For instance, in their work (Peixoto, Rocha, Nishijima and Postali, 2012) analyzed the possible correlation between decentralization and corruption in the context of Brazil’s primary healthcare programs, and concluded that there is no relationship between decentralization and corruption, whatever the measure of decentralization used. In his article, Remy Prud’homme (1995) described the danger posed by decentralization, stating that the benefits it entails under the standard theory of fiscal federalism are not obvious.

Finally, the author makes blunt inaccuracies. For instance, “to reap benefit of the plan, the government intends to improve the state and to grant autonomy to local levels”(Bhuiyan, 2010, p.659). However, given that Kazakhstan is a unitary, not federal, state autonomy is neither feasible nor possible.

In conclusion, this essay attempts to critique Bhuiyan’s (2010) article. Despite the overall clarity of the author’s arguments, improvements are needed with regard to the methodology. Attention should be paid to providing a more comprehensive analysis of decentralization. As a last point, the author should better attempt to take into account the local political and policy context in Kazakhstan.

References:

Bhuiyan, S. H. (2010). Decentralization and local governance in Kazakhstan.International Journal of Public Administration33(12-13), 658-672.

Peixoto, S. G. D., Rocha, F. F., Nishijima, M., & Postali, F. A. S. (2012).Decentralization and corruption: evidence from primary health-care programmes.Applied Economics Letters19(18), 1885-1888.

Prud’Homme, R. (1995). The dangers of decentralization. The world bank research observer10(2), 201-220.

Ostrom, E., Schroeder, L., & Wynne, S. (1993). Institutional incentives and sustainable development: infrastructure policies in perspective. Westview Press.

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