Reporting on Local Governance initiatives
In January 2014, the Joint Project of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) “Local Governance Support: Participation and Partnership” (LGSP) met with its stakeholders and close partners at the khokimiyats of Djizak and Namangan regions to evaluate the results of LGSP’s activities during its project cycle 2010-2013.
Public administration reform is a core area for UNDP’s worldwide support. Today, UNDP is implementing in more than 124 countries over 500 projects, covering various aspects of public administration and local governance reform. In recent years in Uzbekistan UNDP has been contributing to enhancing of effectiveness, transparency and accountability of local governments.
Primary objective of the LGSP is to modernize the public administration, to strengthen legal, technical and human resource capacity of bodies of local authority and administration, above all, the khokimiyats at provincial and municipal/district levels, as well as to improve the quality of public services to citizens, particularly through implementation of e-government elements.
Over the past 3,5 years, LGSP, in cooperation with the khokimiyats of pilot regions, line ministries and state agencies, has achieved certain results. In particular, a number of proposals and policy recommendations on strengthening the budgeting powers of local governments, developed through the joint research with the Ministry of Finance, were reflected in laws and regulations.
For instance, in accordance with the Presidential Decree #1887 enacted on December 25, 2012, part of state fees, duties, fines of tax and judicial authorities are transferred from the republican budget to local budgets. “As a result, in 2013 only local budgets of Namangan region accepted additional UZS 19,8 billion, an amount that was spent to social needs of the region”, noted the Deputy Khokim of Namangan region Mr. Homitkhon Jalilov.
LGSP established 6 modern Local Government Information Centers at provincial, municipal and district khokimiyats of Djizak and Namangan regions in order to ensure citizen’s easy access to information about the activities of local governments. Practical experience of piloted Information Centers was used within the legal experiment on testing the Draft Law “On openness of activities of bodies of state authority and administration” in Bukhara and Samarqand regions. Moreover, LGIC’s best practices resulted in the development of a special Handbook “Effective communication with the public”, which was widely disseminated among all ministries, state agencies and khokimiyats throughout Uzbekistan.
At the meetings LGSP also showcased the work carried out within its support to the Government Programme on the introduction of e-Government. In particular, the project established modernized electronic document management system “e-Hujjat” in 27 khokimiyats of pilot regions, granted digital signatures to over 300 khokimiyat officials and trained them on ICT skills. The representative of the general department of Djizak regional khokimiyat Mrs. Feruza Karimov said: “Today we can’t imagine how we worked before without the electronic document management system. The system significantly enhanced efficiency of our work. Well, if before the transfer of documents to districts took few days, now it takes few seconds to send them through Internet. Besides, we are saving a lot of paper”.
With a view to improve the quality of interactive public services to citizens, One-Stop-Shops were established in Djizak and Namangan cities. At the moment, LGSP in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is developing the draft Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan that provides for establishment of OSS countrywide and identifies their legal status and funding sources.
Moreover, LGSP developed the community-based tourism development model based on the experience of Zaamin district, Djizak region. “Project facilitated the improvement of hygiene and sanitary condition of guest houses in Zaamin, training of guest-house owners, installment of information boards and roadside signs alongside the tourist sites, promotion of Zaamin tourist zone in social networks and international tourist fairs, etc.”, stated Mrs. Lola Sanaeva, regional chairman of Uzbektourism National Company in Djizak region.
On the whole, the outcomes of the joint UNDP project were positively assessed by the Government of Uzbekistan and the project was extended for another 4 years until 2017, while Tashkent region was included as a new pilot region.
The followings were identified as priority activity areas for the next phase of LGSP:
· Sustainable development of territories and local businesses;
· Modernization of public administration;
· Enhancing of transparency and accountability of local governments;
· Improvement of activities and capacity building for local civil servants;
· Strengthening of budgeting powers of local governments.
In general, the stakeholders and partners in pilot regions took a favorable view of the achieved project results in the first phase and presented their proposals for the second phase of LGSP.
The meetings were attended by Deputy Khokims of Djizak and Namangan regions, senators, members of local Kengashes of people’s deputies (locally elected assemblies), representatives of provincial, municipal and district khokimiyats, regional divisions of line ministries and agencies, NGOs, private sector and local Media.