ASTANA – A 2014 ranking by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) placed Kazakhstan 101st of 135 countries on the World Giving Index. As a result, participants at a recent meeting concluded the need for the nation to develop and adopt a draft law on charity, according to the Nur Otan party press service.
“Of course society needs charity, because under conditions of growing global economic crisis it is especially important to ensure protection of vulnerable groups of the population. Development of charity contributes to better protection of vulnerable groups of the population and development of creativity, culture and sports. Charity creates social responsibility of businesses and citizens, promotes consolidation and humanisation of society and ultimately leads to an increase in the quality of human capital and the development of the country. Therefore, the law on charityis urgent and important,”stated the press release.
Experts pointed out that the practice of philanthropy in Kazakhstan is underdeveloped comparedto other countries. Only 0.5 percent of citizens are constantly engaged in charity, with the volume of donations, according to various estimates, rangingfrom 300to 400 million tenge (US$1.6-$2.2 million). By comparison, in the U.S. about 90 percent of the population is engaged in charitable giving, with 2 percent of the nation’s annual GDP earmarked for charity.
The draft involves a number of steps to create conditions in Kazakhstan to activate this type of material assistance. The draft is still under consideration and proposals to improve it were discussed at the meeting.
Thus, the Nur Otan Institute for Public Policy suggested strengthening the transparency and accountability provisions of the draft, including eliminating the phrase “opacity and secrecy of charity organisations, as well as any corruption and corruption risks.”
The proposal also included compulsory indication of sources of received funds, i.e. funds received from state bodies, departments and agencies, as well as companies with state participation, which would increase the effectiveness of spending control and use of funds allocated from the state budget. Another important point should be a requirement for effective use of funds spent by charity organisations.
“The law should be primarily aimed not at the administration, but at the development of charity. As a motivating factor it can be used for tax incentives, which is widespread in world practice,” said Aruzhan Sain, head of the Dobrovolnoye Obschestvo Miloserdiye (Mercy Voluntary Society) public fund.
She also stressed that the document considered will not change the situation in the country. “Since 2006 we have been working in this direction and I must say that by and large, the draft law in this form will not change anything in charity. Everything stated in the draft law already exists in practice, regulated by the tax code, Ministry of Justice, etc. In regard to the promotion of charitable activity by awards, it seems to me that tax bonuses would be much more attractive for a business,” said Sain.
According to Nikolai Kuzmin, a member of the Nur Otan faction in the Mazhilis (lower chamber of Parliament), the idea of a law on charity should be “the need for clear legal criteria to encourage people in their endeavours, rather than indulging them in their dependency.” The MP stressed that implementing the draft law would not require additional financial costs from the state budget.
A large number of substantive comments and suggestions provided during the discussion will be analysed and taken into account to further elaborate the draft law.