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March 2017

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Fifth wheel of Transport Ministry, or how official may deprive Kyrgyzstan of new roads

13/12/16 09:09, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency, by Tatyana KUDRYAVTSEVA

Kyrgyz government struggles to improve life in the country. President asks loans to improve infrastructure. The country receives loans, but could lose preferential money because of the negligence and unwillingness of officials to work.

We don't take advises from donors

The World Bank is financing in Kyrgyzstan the first phase of project program on improving roads in Central Asia. The total funding allocated by the International Development Association (part of the WB) is $40.42 million. Including $7.39 million - grant and $23.9 million - a soft loan. Donors repeatedly regretted that got involved in this story. 

The project catastrophically makes no progress due to the incompetence of the leadership of the Group on implementation of investment projects of the Ministry of Transport. The World Bank can't get a clear explanation or actions from the authorities. Once again, the mission on support of the implementation of the project visited Kyrgyzstan from July 30 to August 11 and from September 8 to 11, 2016. Conclusions were made quite sad: slow implementation of the project, a low disbursement and systemic problems with the management of the project.

At least 21 months have passed since the entry into force of the project. All this time, the World Bank notes that it is too slowly implemented. Early purchases started long before the entry into force of the project. However, the total amount of disbursements of $4.97 million is only 11 percent of the total cost.

Not going to reform Group on implementation of investment projects

The World Bank team has repeatedly offered the government officials to solve the problem fundamentally. Including reforming the Group on implementation of investment projects, which derails the process. Representatives of state bodies agree with the recommendations, but don't do anything. Delays began to emerge at the stage of early purchases in 2014 and continued after the signing of major contracts in November 2015. 

The Group on implementation of investment projects played a crucial role. The organization is not a legal party in any of the project contracts. And in fact the Group on implementation of investment projects makes all the decisions on contracts, including the issuance of instructions to the parties of the contract.

It also can't sign the reports on the evaluation of bids, and its advisers are not members of tender committees. At the same time, in practice, it prepares recommendations for the awarding of contracts. World Bank experts note that the Group on implementation of investment projects is not willing to take responsibility for its decisions. As well as don't want the organization to share existing knowledge with the Ministry of Transport and Roads.

Artificially protracted constructions

The Group on implementation of investment projects, headed by Kubanychbek Mamaev, can't control the progress of construction work. International experts say that the course of the project on the first phase on improving the roads in the Central Asian is far from satisfactory. 

In a letter dated February 9, 2016 the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Kyrgyz Republic informed the World Bank that site Isfana - Kayragach passes through the territory of Tajikistan. Because of this, the project site had to be increased and to consider the need for additional work on the project.

Why this have been done only this year, when at the stage of preparation of the project in 2013 it was already known about the stretch of road length of 700 m, located on Tajik territory? Three years ago, the World Bank has recognized that there is a need to change the route and build it bypassing the territory of the neighboring state. However, a decision on the matter still hasn't been made.

The process of obtaining permits for the exploitation of open pits for the construction of roads significantly delayed due to the fault of the government. In addition, the project's contractor also in no hurry to work. Strange, because logically the construction company must perform the work as quickly as possible in order to get payment.

It was found that the Group on implementation of investment projects applied to the contractor with a request to delay any work except excavation, until 2017, as the equipment is currently on another construction site (part of the road Batken - Isfana). China Road and Bridge Corporation deals with this site, and the work there is to be completed by mid-2017.

When visiting the sites, the World Bank team revealed that some local staff employed by the contractor, had no labor contracts under current labor law, and the payment of wages was delayed.

In addition, the actual progress of work is seriously behind schedule. Thereby the possibility of completing the work on time jeopardizes. Also a review of design and preparation of project changes are not performed. The Group on implementation of investment projects prepared the complete package of the feasibility study and projects in 2013-2014. However, in December 2015 the organization suddenly offers to make changes to the documentation again. However, until now the process hasn't been completed. Due to delays in the final completion of the project, the contractor can't begin work in the disputed areas.

Group on implementation of investment projects is being supervised by Kubanychbek Mamaev. This man has already outlived at least two ministers of transport and roads. Both officials left the office after the scandal. Kubanychbek Mamaev's name was not mentioned in the conflict, even in passing. He easily sheds all responsibility and protection of state interests. But does the country need such head? 

There are violations, but no reaction

The World Bank Group is disappointed with work on implementation of investment projects. If the international donor already shows discontent to the Group on implementation of investment projects, it is a serious signal. At the suggestion of the head of the organization Kubanychbek Mamaev, the Group doesn't want to be responsible for its own recommendations. The Ministry of Transport and Roads is also in no hurry to think through problems with international road projects. 

Instead of it, Kubanychbek Mamaev receives good salary and continues to jeopardize the possibility of receiving donor funds to improve the infrastructure. MPs recently criticized the leadership of the State Mortgage Company for high salaries. After all, even the deputy head of State Mortgage Company receives 72,000 soms in a month. In fact, State Mortgage Company is not the most coveted prize. According to the staff list, the head of the Group on implementation of investment projects Kubanychbek Mamaev receives 123,000 soms per month. Not bad, right? Though there is no result of his work.

Quite the contrary. The management structure of the Group on implementation of investment projects is extremely hierarchical. The possibilities of consultants are limited. They are obliged unilaterally to report to the director of the Group on implementation of investment projects. And they work only in accordance with his instructions. When the director Kubanychbek Mamaev is traveling or busy with other tasks, the project may stall for a few days or even weeks.

The situation is quite strange. Kubanychbek Mamaev gets a good salary, but brings the Ministry of Transport and the State only problems. No one is going to prosecute him. Instead,  the Minister of Transport and Roads drowned in a teacup. Maybe we should listen to the advice of donors and to reform the Group on implementation of investment projects? Because, otherwise, Kyrgyzstan may lose preferential foreign loans and grants. And there simply will be no funds to build new roads.

URL: http://eng.24.kg/economics/183294-news24.html
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«When we ran in the elections, we said that would even get the moon and the sun from the sky ».
MP Kamchybek Joldoshbayev at a meeting of Parliament, February 2, 2017.

«What have you done besides sale of donkeys to China?».
Deputy Ryskeldi Mombekov to the head of State Inspectorate for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Safety Kalysbek Zhumakanov at a meeting of Parliament, February 1, 2017.

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