ASTANA – Crown Agents, one of the world’s leading experts in strategic decision-making for public sector management which has been operating for more than 185 years with a presence in more than 100 countries, has come to Kazakhstan. In an interview with The Astana Times, company chair Marie Staunton talked about the firm’s projects and goals in the country and the region.
“We are an international company, partner of governments, international organisations and the private sector in the areas of healthcare, supply chain management, governance, economic development and humanitarian action. We help countries respond to natural and manmade crises, strengthen healthcare systems, improve citizens’ access to healthcare, develop the economy and improve financial management,” she said.
“We are delighted to be here in Kazakhstan, working with local partners towards the improvement of local economy,” she added.
Crown Agents hosted a panel discussion exploring the potential of frontier technologies to accelerate economic growth at the seventh annual USAID Central Asia Trade Forum, held in October in Almaty.
“Our panel session gathered experts from the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to discuss innovative solutions such as body cameras and solar which may contribute to bolstering trade and economic growth across Central Asia through saving time, money and improving security. We also highlighted the importance of proper legislation in the implementation of frontier technologies, as local laws are still prohibitive,” she said.
As part of its work in Kazakhstan, the organisation is partnering with local company Batys Transit, drawing on its years of expertise in implementing relevant projects across the country.
“Cooperation with local companies is not only an opportunity to contribute to the development of Kazakhstan’s economy, but also to provide support to efficient and transparent business that helps drive improved standards across the region,” said Staunton.
Crown Agents helps governments use resources more efficiently.
“Through supporting public procurement reform, we help save money by finding the best solutions for the lowest prices. We also work to establish transparent systems, which are important for foreign investors and donors who need to be sure that all grants are allocated properly,” she added.
The company is open to all propositions from state bodies and believes its expertise can help Central Asian countries build transparent and reliable economies, as well as help state institutions work effectively.
Crown Agents has been working in the region for 25 years in close cooperation with governments, donors and development partners. Its operations began in 1992 and the office in Bishkek was launched in 2013.
“All these years we have been working in procurement and supply chain management, providing various consulting and financial services to our clients, including the Global Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the government of Japan. Our projects in the region deal with a wide range of topics, including improving procurement systems, healthcare system development and supporting international trade,” said Staunton.
One of its long-term and broad projects is rationalising transport and trade logistics to enhance transboundary trade in Central Asia.
“In order to accelerate border crossings and therefore expand trade, Crown Agents identified bottlenecks and physical and institutional needs to facilitate the creation of a single window network in all countries of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC). Under this project, funded by the Asian Development Bank, CAREC countries have been able to use Crown Agents’ experience in customs and trade facilitation. We implemented the single window mechanism around the world to optimise the flow of trade and transport information, even before the arrival of the goods to the border,” she said.
Crown Agents also conducted monitoring global fund projects in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. As a local agent of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), it has monitored grants worth more than £175 million (US$229.2 million) allocated to control the fatal diseases in the three countries.
With the official assistance of the Japanese government, Crown Agents is currently working on procurement to develop Central Asia, as well as increasing trade effectiveness with the help of single window in Tajikistan.
“We hope to continue making important contributions to the discussion on the potential of frontier technologies to accelerate economic growth and have seen lots of interest from both the private sector and state bodies. We look forward to the opportunity of working with them to bring international experience to the countries of Central Asia in order to help the region realise its enormous economic potential,” said Staunton.