Kazakhstan’s Official Development Assistance to Focus on Central Asia, Afghanistan, Says FM

ASTANA – Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrissov reported on the draft law “On Official Development Assistance” at the plenary session of the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament) on Oct. 29. The draft law is intended to regulate Kazakhstan’s official development assistance.

KazAid (1)The draft law is designed to implement President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decree of April 9, 2013, “On the Concept of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the sphere of official development assistance.” According to Idrissov, the draft law was developed by an interdepartmental working group that included 17 state bodies.

“The uniqueness of the project, not only for our national legislation, but also for the whole CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] territory, where only two countries have a national system of development assistance, must be noted. These are Russia and Azerbaijan, but even they do not have relevant laws,” Idrissov said.

“I would like to note that the participation of such authoritative international partners as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) allowed us to ensure the best global practices at all stages of preparation of the draft law. In addition, close work has been done with experienced national donors such as South Korea, the U.S., France, Japan, Turkey and others,” he added.

Idrissov also noted that the project first directs the systematisation of existing activities of official development assistance (ODA). International experience shows that ODA is an effective mechanism for improving stability and prosperity in the region and the world. Development assistance is also another tool for creating favourable external conditions for the development of the country providing assistance – one reason many countries have formed national ODA systems in the past century.

An ODA system will also help create external conditions for the successful implementation of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy and its goal of achieving high living standards for the population of Kazakhstan, Idrissov noted.

In his words, Kazakhstan, as a regional leader, cannot afford to stand apart from problems in the region, where some countries are actually on the verge of becoming failed states. “Existing risks may even worsen after the withdrawal of international coalition troops from Afghanistan,” Idrissov said. “Therefore, the main geographical focus of providing ODA will be Central Asia, Afghanistan and the Caucasus in the long term. There is no country in our region, except Kazakhstan, that is able to provide such systemic support.”

KazAid (2)A national system of international development assistance is one of the essential attributes of states seeking to become the most developed countries of the world. With its economic development and growing international profile, Kazakhstan’s responsibility for ensuring international and regional security and stability is increasing, Idrissov said.

There are also external factors prompting the development of this draft law, the foreign minister noted. Kazakhstan was recently reclassified as an upper middle income country. In addition to burnishing the country’s image, this imposes some responsibility on Kazakhstan for what is happening in the world, as well as increases the expectations of the international community of Kazakhstan’s capabilities. “The attitude is, ‘You received support and became stronger; now help others,’” he said.

The foreign minister is convinced that it is impossible to ensure steady growth in isolation and in an unfavourable socio-economic environment. It is no coincidence that many new donors, he said, are countries with gross domestic products that are less than or comparable to Kazakhstan’s, per capita.

Concluding the speech in the Mazhilis, Idrissov gave the following arguments in favour of the project: “First, KazAID is not a charity sending money overseas. It will provide carefully targeted support for projects that will have a real impact on our regional economy, security and well-being. Second, we will work with other governments and organisations across the region to identify and implement projects, making use of their experience and knowledge – and international best practices – to ensure projects are well managed and have the greatest effect. Third, KazAID’s operations and projects will be rigorously and regularly assessed to ensure they are delivering on their objectives and providing the most efficient and effective use of funds.”