ASTANA – On May 22, Astana witnessed the start of the sixth Astana Economic Forum (AEF), held in the Palace of Independence. One of the first conferences held within the AEF was the Conference on Modernisation of Civil Service, which gathered representatives from various organisations and state agencies as well as officials to share their experiences and opinions on the issue. Peer countries’ experiences as well as the possibilities of applying international approaches in training civil servants were also reviewed within the session.
Alikhan Baimenov, chairman of the Agency for Civil Service Affairs of Kazakhstan, shared information about the history of the development of Kazakhstan’s laws on civil service in his welcoming speech. He noted that examinations for entering the civil service have become tougher and civil servants of the country have recently demonstrated positive results in their examinations for approval of their positions within the state agencies’ system of the country. “A state needs a strong and solid civil service system to be competitive,” he noted in his speech. “Kazakhstan has to move away from the Soviet civil service system and implement the best international experiences with regard to local environment,” he added. He also noted that Kazakhstan is moving in the right direction in achieving the goal of a more transparent and competitive civil service system. Concluding his speech, he wished the delegates and speakers of the sixth AEF fruitful work.
When EU Head Representative to Kazakhstan Aurelia Bouchez took the floor, she noted that, “The European Union is a strategic partner of Kazakhstan in many sectors, including civil service. The joint efforts of the EU and Kazakhstan are important for achieving the common goal of sustainable development.”
Sukhvinder Singh Chopra, independent advisor and director of TS-Temasek Management Services, shared the experience of Singapore in modernising their civil service system. “We were the country with almost nothing, we started from zero. But now we are considered one of the best developing countries in the world. When we started changing our system we realised that, first of all, we need to have a transparent civil service system, without corruption and with responsible employees working for the government. For that purpose it was required to change the mentality of people through training. We started to considerably change our system. As Mr. Baimenov noted earlier, ‘The properly developed system leads to sustainable development.’
Stephen Emerson Condrey, President of the American Society for Public Administration, underlined that Kazakhstan is moving in the right direction in the sphere of civil service. “For example, in America not every person strives to be employed in a state agency. The salaries are not high and according to the statistics, we have about 30 percent lack of employed civil servants. So the government wants to elaborate some benefits for civil servants in order to attract people to the system. In 2017, in the U.S., most of the currently working civil servants will reach retirement age. In comparison with the U.S., the civil servants of Kazakhstan are mostly young people.”
Kazakhstan’s civil servants receive many benefits: they are provided with housing, they get quarterly bonuses depending on their achievements, they attend advanced training courses and more. In addition, they have transportation from their places of residence to the offices and back, which is a case in Astana, for example, which is a significant perk. The government of Kazakhstan tries to improve both living and working conditions for employees working in the state system.
Kazakhstan’s Agency for Civil Service Affairs, the United Nations Development Programme and the Academy of State Governance under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan organised the conference.