After the political upheaval of 2010 the Kyrgyz Republic has a budget deficit of more than 10%, whereas, at the beginning of this year it was about 5.5%, and two or three years ago it did not exceed 4%. If, prior to the political changes, the budget of Kyrgyzstan and its deficit were managed by a special group of people, currently, we are faced with a situation when the economic development is not a prerogative of a specific layer of society, but is a common task. The actual development of the economy may be achieved, provided the country’s citizens are aware of the situation and problems in the area of the state finance.
Kyrgyzstan’s residents are not adequately informed of the condition of the state finance and country budget related problems in general, as well as those related particularly to local budgets. The mass media fail to execute their function of providing information on the state and local budgets to the society. This is one of a number of reasons why the residents of the republic do not perceive the relationship between the state and municipal finance and their life quality. They do not understand the way in which the public finance influences service provision. On the one hand, it results in that the citizens’ attitude to the budget is that of consumers: they often expect that, they may, for instance, have their multi apartment houses repaired at the expense of the state budget, despite the fact that apartments in such houses have been privatized. Here is another example: parents are ready to pay fees to schools to cover their needs which should be covered from the state and local budgets. At the same time, the citizens, for example, have no idea of how the money allotted for the government maintenance is spent, or how the state aid is distributed. For instance, the April event victims have got monetary compensation of one million Som. The relatives of victims of the June events in Osh and Jalal-Abad have received 50,000 Som.
The Kyrgyz Republic budget is still non-transparent and the citizens do not have an adequate chance to influence budget formation, approval and execution. According to the rating of the American organization of “International Budget Partnership”, in 2010, Kyrgyzstan, like Cambodia, was among the bottom countries in the rating of state budget – the transparency of the country’s budget does not exceed 15 percent .
Most citizens have a rather vague idea of the public finance, ways of its formation, role in the economic development, ways of managing it in an efficient manner, as well as means of its abuse and mercenary usage. The least transparent are issues of saving, overspending and other changes which take place in the course of budget execution. For example, under the law any change related to budget execution shall be discussed and approved at local council sessions or through a special law adopted by the Parliament in case of the state budget, and information of such changes must be available to the public. However it is not the case in real life.
The budget is still non-transparent because, on the one hand, government agencies are not eager to disclose budget information and, on the other hand, the public demand of such information SEEMS rather low. Society oversight plays a great role in achieving finance and property management transparency. When dealing with elective government bodies no coercive measures aimed at information disclosure are as effective as citizens’ demands. However this control does not arise per se. The society must possess special knowledge and skills to exercise an efficient oversight of finance and property management.
If you ask a remote village resident whether he/she is interested in some information related to the state budget plan for the ensuing quarter, he/she is most likely to say “no”. But, if you ask him/her whether he/she is interested in how much the state spends on the upkeep of his/her son, doing his military service, this information is, no doubt, going to be of great interest to him/her. The results of the research conducted by the Alliance “For Transparent Budget” in 2009 testify to the fact that most people in Kyrgyzstan (more than 73%) show some interest in the process of allocating tax and non-tax revenues by ayil okrugs. The residents of Osh (82%) and Issyk- Kul (87%) Oblasts demonstrated the most significant interest in how tax and non-tax revenues are allocated. The least interested proved to be the residents of Naryn (58%) and Chui (65%) Oblasts.
It is indicative that the overwhelming majority of the citizens – 76% show some interest in the stages of execution, supervision and reporting, i.e. they, want to know the ways in which the money is actually spent. But the stages of budget formulation and approval are of interest to only 24% of the interviewed, i.e. the people are not aware of any opportunity of influencing the plans of finance spending.
Practically nobody except for some NGOs and donor projects teaches people to understand budgeting processes. However mass media could provide people with some simple and comprehensible information on all the stages of budgeting process and demonstrate to them how they could take part in these stages.
Mass media have balked these and many other issues related to public finance. As a result, Kyrgyz Republic citizens are deprived of the opportunity to use media as an instrument of achieving transparency and accountability of the Government in the area of managing the state and public finance.
The input of journalists cannot be overestimated as they (mass media) are the most significant driving force capable of driving society to addressing some or other issues and forming opinions of both specific citizens and overall community. A democratic society which should be created in this country will depend on the extent of reliability and accurate interpretation of information which it will be provided by economic journalists.