Notes from Not-Quite the Front Lines in Bishkek
Doug Hadden, VP Products
There is uncertainty in life. Confusion. You can’t always trust what you see or what you hear. This was how it was a little over a week ago in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan. A few hundred meters from my hotel and the Ministry of Finance. I could hear explosions and some gunfire.
Local people were not panicked. The Ministry of Finance staff operated as if there was a fire drill – with confidence. And, the hotel operated normally while mounted police waited near the entrance. However, the television news from the BBC spoke of chaos and crisis.
History was unfolding hundreds of meters away in a very tranquil way. There seemed to be a sense of cautious optimism that does not make for sensational news!
Appetite for Reform
Kyrgyzstan in rated 162 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index in 2009. Corruption has been described as one of the major reasons for unrest.
This may make some people think that the Government lacks interest in Public Financial Management Reform and transparency. This was not the impression that I got meeting stakeholders with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. Senior public servants emphasized to me that they have a significant appetite for reform. They want more effective and transparent government. They want to learn more good practices from other countries.
FreeBalance in Kyrgyzstan
FreeBalance is implementing the FreeBalance Accountability Suite for the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic. The first phase is ambitious covering budget preparation, commitment accounting, budget controls, treasury management, human resources, payroll and financial disclosure. The project is operating on time and within budget. I think that the main reasons for the success to date comes from the commitment of public servants in the Government. This project is “owned” by the government and is seen as a critical factor to improving development in Kyrgyzstan. There is joint management of risk factors. Public servants are quick to provide details of the current processes and needs. And, all stakeholders are focused on ensuring that there are no delays in the project plan.