Reform of public administration is seen as the key to development in Uzbekistan, writes Jorabek Nematov
Administrative reforms began in Uzbekistan in 2017, by the decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On approval of the concept of administrative reforms in the Republic of Uzbekistan”.
In order to correctly assess the first achievements and problems of the implemented administrative reforms and determine the next steps.
According to the order of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On organisational measures for the development of the programme of administrative reforms of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2023” analyses have been published to solve pending issues and improve the efficiency of the state administration and local government system in the conditions of New Uzbekistan.
The analyses covered the following six areas:
– determining the status of state administration bodies, improving their structures and optimizing state units
– development of digital technologies, openness and public-private partnership in the activities of public administration bodies
– improvement of material and technical support of state administration bodies
– improvement of personnel capacity of state administration bodies
– prevention of corruption in public administration bodies
– radical improvement of the activities of local state authorities.
The directions defined above are comprehensive and require deep analysis and scientific-practical research.
Preliminary analyzes show that the main achievement of the administrative reforms in the state administration in Uzbekistan is that state bodies have learned to listen to the people’s opinion.
However, it can not be said that all the reforms stipulated in the decree “On approval of the concept of administrative reforms in the Republic of Uzbekistan”. The improvement of the administrative justice system specified by the decree did not cause significant changes. The Law “On Civil Service” was adopted instead of the Law “On Civil Servants”.
This is not the biggest problem. In public administration, there is still widespread work on the basis of old-fashioned administrative orders, ostentatiousness, analytical thinking, continuous work on oneself, critical and constructive thinking.
In order to achieve the results expected by the people of the administrative reforms in Uzbekistan, civil servants should learn to work correctly and qualitatively.
Based on the analyses carried out according to the order of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On organizational measures for the development of the program of administrative reforms of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2023”, a new stage of administrative reforms in Uzbekistan began in December 2022.
Decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PF-269 “On measures to implement the administrative reforms of New Uzbekistan”, “Effective organization of the activities of the executive authorities of the republic within the framework of the administrative reforms of New Uzbekistan”, Decree No. PF-14, the Resolution No. PQ-447, No. PF-14 “On Primary Organizational Measures to Effectively Launch the Activities of the Executive Authorities of the Republic.” On the basis of these documents, the following administrative reforms were implemented in the system of executive power in Uzbekistan.
– the system of direct work of heads of executive authorities who are members of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the Prime Minister independently of the structural structures of the Cabinet of Ministers was introduced;
– the number of independent republican executive authorities will be reduced from 61 to 28, including the number of ministries from 25 to 21, starting from January 1, 2023;
– precise differentiation of the scope of responsibility of the head of the executive body of the republic and his deputies and the clear delimitation of the tasks and functions of the units at the republican, regional and district levels;
– it is prohibited for the heads of the republic’s executive authorities and their deputies to simultaneously act as heads of the economic management bodies;
– the practice of granting state power powers to associations and other economic associations and appointing their leaders to positions by decisions of the Cabinet of Ministers was abolished;
– 5,000 functions of all republican executive authorities have been reviewed, and about 500 repetitive, redundant functions that have lost their significance and are not provided with implementation mechanisms have been identified;
– it is envisaged to introduce the adoption and publication of orders, decisions through the electronic system “E-decision” in all executive authorities, starting from 1 September, 2023;
– introduction of a system of remote methods of working with regions based on modern technologies, such as “online reception”, “virtual visit”.
It would be useful to consider the following points in order to make the administrative reforms expected to be implemented in Uzbekistan more effective.
First of all, it is necessary to train high-quality civil servants and constantly improve their skills. It is necessary to recruit civil servants on the basis of a uniform selection system, to establish specific criteria for growth in the service, rotation, disciplinary punishment and dismissal, and to determine the exact conditions and mechanism of payment for service free from the influence of various subjective factors. Experienced civil servants, including representatives of medicine, education and other fields, should be able to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation.
Secondly, it is necessary to organise work on the basis of encouraging good ideas and innovations in the organization of work of ministries and agencies. The leader must confirm his leadership with ideal leadership, leadership skills, the ability to unite the team towards common goals and take responsibility for the achievement of set goals and unachieved results. Accordingly, it is also important that managers learn to listen to and encourage the forward-looking ideas of their employees.
Thirdly, we need to correctly determine the number and scope of ministries and agencies, and their functional tasks. There are areas or issues. For example, control over the implementation of laws in the field of public education is carried out by the Ministry of Preschool and School Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, judicial authorities, prosecutor’s offices and other agencies. Who needs such control and why?It is correct that such control should be carried out by one body by correctly defining the purpose of control. If we take into account that the bodies that carry out control are financed from the state budget, financing is being carried out several times for the same issue. If we want to abandon the old ways of working, we must boldly abandon the old approaches to public administration.
Although it is difficult to say the optimal number of ministries and agencies, we can say one thing for sure. The state should determine the areas it should regulate and the directions it should give to the non-state sector. For example, many developed foreign countries do not have a ministry of higher education. Because higher education institutions based on academic freedom are self-governing. Another example is that the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary are integrated into a single system. If we look at the experience of Japan, the executive power in Japan is distinguished by its compactness and efficient functioning.
Fourthly, it is necessary to clearly define the tasks that the ministries and agencies perform mutually and within the same system. In this case, each body should have its own independent field of activity and area of responsibility. In order to do this, it is necessary to carry out scientific and practical analyzes in each area of administrative management.
Fifthly, the concept of administrative reforms in 2017 showed that defining the general and conceptual directions for the implementation of administrative reforms will not be enough and will not bring the expected result. The target indicators of state management in each sector and the steps and specific mechanisms for achieving them should be specified in as much detail as possible.
Sixthly, we should understand that administrative reforms are not implemented for anyone or for the interests of any office. No matter what field you take, every ministry and office in every field has “used to and comfortable” and in most cases “outdated” management practices. Duplication of tasks causes uncertainty and inefficiency in management.
It is necessary to approach every issue not from the point of view of departmental interests, but from the point of view of how we can achieve the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative management.
Finally, after defining the state and non-state sector in the analysis of functional tasks, the next most important aspect is to determine the golden balance between local self-government and central government. In the Japanese experience, a prefecture or a city in the regions and districts, pre-school education, secondary education, medicine, police and public order, fire safety, road construction and utility services, architecture and construction and other a number of sectors are regulated and entrusted to local level management.
The main criterion for determining this golden balance is that it is desirable to quickly solve them based on local conditions and peculiarities at the local level.
In a certain sense, these proposals have already started to be implemented in Uzbekistan today. For example, today the following ministries are left:
- Ministry of Investments, Industry and Trade;
- Ministry of Economy and Finance;
- Ministry of Mining and Geology;
- Ministry of Construction and Housing and Communal Economy;
- Ministry of Poverty Reduction and Employment;
- Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation;
- Ministry of Preschool and School education;
- Ministry of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change;
- Ministry of Youth Policy and Sports;
- Ministry of Agriculture;
- Ministry of Water Resources;
- Ministry of Digital Technologies;
- Ministry of Justice;
- Ministry of Transport;
- Ministry of Culture and Tourism;
- Ministry of Defense;
- Ministry of Energy;
- Ministry of Health;
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- Ministry of Internal Affairs;
- Ministry of Emergency Situations.
It is impossible to discuss all aspects of administrative reforms in Uzbekistan within a single article. In fact, these issues need to be carefully analysed at international and republican level conferences with the participation of scientists and experts. We hope that such events will be held in turn in the near future.
The Author, Dr. Jorabek Nematov, is an Associate Professor of the Department of Law, at the Tashkent State University