Prominent political analyst Dosym Satpayev has proposed a new concept for reforms in Kazakhstan. Though it may seem philosophical, his logic does appear to have a reasonable basis.
Literal Translation Below:
Our main vulnerability lies in an ineffective political system and the poor performance of the government apparatus, which is a product of an archaic economy based on natural resource rent. If we remove Tengiz, Kashagan, and Karachaganak, we will be left with a banana republic without bananas, where, as in one joke, geneticists have established that the talent to build-up and run a large-scale business is well passed from father-in-law to son-in-law.
This vulnerability is susceptible to a large number of external and internal challenges. And this is something we have been constantly observing in recent years.
In the heyday of high oil prices and geopolitical stability, any incompetence of an official could be compensated with money. However, in the current conditions of high geopolitical and geo-economic turbulence, an entirely new model of state management is necessary.
It’s long overdue to conduct a liposuction of public servants. Trim down the government apparatus. Shed the excess weight. Following the Pareto principle, this would be 80% of officials. Make it compact, swift, efficient, and highly compensated by recruiting new faces. In Kazakhstan, there are plenty of such individuals.
The ineffective political system, high level of corruption, lack of an independent judiciary, declining education standards, and much more act as barriers to the economic future of the republic.
By the way, this aligns with the Economic Freedom Index, prepared annually by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation, where Kazakhstan dropped seven positions and ranked 71st in 2023. The country received its lowest scores due to the inefficiency of the legal system and a high level of corruption.
In this context, political will for change without a team of reformers is akin to installing an advanced GPS in a car from which the wheels and engine were stolen a long time ago.
What’s the point of the GPS showing the way if the car can’t move anywhere?
The wheels represent the technocrats at all levels of government. The engine represents a grand idea, the Kazakhstani dream, in which society, government, and business believe and trust.