NUR-SULTAN – The Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) plans to form an agency to systematize official development assistance (ODA) from Kazakhstan to Central Asian countries, the ministry explained during a Aug. 19 press briefing.
Although Kazakhstan has been providing ODA through KazAID program for the last 20 years, the MFA has been administering the program with other governmental bodies, said Kazakh Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Ashikbayev. The lack of a single regulator made it hard to collect the data and track the flow of resources. The new agency should make the process more systematized and transparent.
The MFA’s initiative to form an agency to control KazAID caused misunderstanding and public outrage around the necessity of the program during these unprecedented times. The MFA, nevertheless, believes that the advantages of the ODA to Kazakhstan’s soft power outweigh the disadvantages that it might cause.
According to Ashikbayev, the agency will ensure the fulfillment of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (the OECD) recommendations, promote domestic products for export in foreign markets, improve the qualification of Kazakh professionals, as well as introduce international quality standards of goods and services.
The agency will be Kazakhstan’s part of the solution to global challenges. The agency will also seek to promote Kazakhstan’s foreign policy and economic interests and expand cooperation with partner countries and international organizations.
The agency will annually allocate 138 million tenge (US$330,529.8) to the program.
“To create an agency, we propose to allocate authorized capital – approximately 100 million tenge (US$239,514.4). First of all, we are talking about a trilateral partnership. This is a form of interaction when funding comes from abroad. Kazakhstan or the agency plays the role of an implementing agent, and there is a beneficiary country, ”Ashikbayev said.
In response to a prevailing popular public opinion that the pandemic is not the right time for Kazakhstan to start initiatives in assisting other countries, Ashikbayev argued that “the pandemic underlines the importance of giving assistance.”
“The issue is not foreign aid, it is international cooperation… International cooperation is about demonstrating solidarity. International cooperation is not a one way street … It’s about building mutual respect. One sided aid often fails. The [ODA is the same as] investing in your own country’s sustained prosperity,” explained Norimasa Shimomura, the United Nations’ Resident Coordinator for Kazakhstan.
According to the speakers of the briefing, assistance for neighbouring countries is eventually beneficial for Kazakhstan as it will contribute to regional stability.
“We solve problems that can migrate to a country donor,” said Mukhit Sydyknazarov, the director of the Contemporary Studies Institute at the Gumilyov Eurasian National University.
The establishment of the agency is still under public discussion.