Another session of the City Council was held in Bishkek. There were 4 issues on the agenda. The first problem was approval of the state budget for 2014. And it is clear: it's the middle of March but the capital hasn't had the main financial document yet. Although the question was meticulously considered at the permanent budget commission, on district and then city public hearings, the deputies had a lot of complaints.
The First Vice Mayor Murat Ismailov has announced key parameters and noted that "the budget project is considered very carefully, up to each comma." Nevertheless, the deputies found fault. For instance, how it is planned to increase penalty amount almost by 20 times. According to the Deputy Artem Ivanov, the sum of collected administrative fines comprised 2.2 million soms in 2013 and it is planned to increase this sum up to 43 million soms in 2014. "At the expense of what?" he wondered. Or why it is predicted to decrease taxes of rented buildings and constructions from 68 million soms in 2013 up to 55 million in 2014?
Even more questions caused 20 million soms, included in budget revenues from taxes for municipal parking. Previously, the Mayor Kubanychbek Kulmatov has ordered to stop collecting taxes until "the systemic approach to be worked out." But the order was made, but orally.
"The budget was formed by the previous mayor. And the new mayor should give new budget message. It is wrong to consider the budget in the format as it is today. We gave creditworthiness to Kubanychbek Kulmatov for 90 days. Two months have passed. Trust limit can be exhausted too. Today Bishkek is in stagnation. According to our data, the mayor doesn't sign any regulations, including parking administration. But parking tax collection is put into the budget project, although today they are suspended. It should be amended in the budget. However, we didn't hear it before the session and during it. The budget project is poor," the Leader of the Opposition faction Mirlan Zheenchoroev criticized the prepared document.
"We shouldn't put the million city in stagnation. Start to work!" - the Deputy said. - "We know you as a good economic manager, Kybanychbek Keneshovich, but yet you haven't done anything."
The mayor, of course, didn't agree with critics.
"You gave me 90 days for working out the program of social economic development. It is not Kulmatov's program, but the program of painful problems which the city has. I don't know whom will you find who will be able to write the program and reformat the budget. If you find such person, I will vacate appointment," he countered. - ... this budget can even be not accepted. You should come down t the problem very carefully. If you give me 90 days, don't reproach me for this. Let's talk in three month. And then you can say your claims."
There were dozens of claims, remarks and suggestions. Problems and questions that were discussed many times and variants of budget funds economy were brought up. The Deputy Valentina Lisnichenko suggested closing down school summer camps. According to her, saved money can be used more efficiently, for example, to give holiday package, make additional payments, and reconstruct schools. Her colleague, School Director Sayragul Ataeva suggested thinking about economy at the expense of hot meals of pupils.
"If we refuse from additional payment in 7 soms, we will save up to 150-170 million soms per year, she said. - If we allocate these funds to school reconstruction we will save buildings."
...Not coming to agreement, the deputies went to lunch-break. However, then they gathered only in 2.5 hours. It appeared that the members of Budget Commission, heads of factions and several coalition members had discussed the budget. After closed session the Chairman of Bishkek City Council Marat Amankulov said: because of many disputes among the deputies it is suggested to stop discussion return the document to mayor's office for rework on 5 days - till March 18.
"Some deputies suggested considering it only in a month. Although, there were no reasons and grounds for not accepting the budget, the Chairman of Budget Commission Ernis Dokenov thinks. - The budget is balanced and prepared for current structure of the city council. We have been considering it the whole month, every single day, all day long, each article, each organization. Yes, maybe someone doesn't understand something, but we have learned all nuances. There is a question in some budget revenue and spending which the mayor can't approve, but he could accept the regulation on the basis of which we could correct the document. It's not a big deal, for instance, 20 million soms for parking. What is 7 billion 47 million soms (budget revenue for 2014) and 20 million soms?"
Why the rest of deputies didn't support the document?
"I don't understand for what, - Ernis Dokenov said. - I think the policy played a bigger role than economic questions. Some kind of politics. And I didn't understand what the matter is. If deputies want to punish someone of officials, then do it according to budget implementation for 2013. We must accept the document. It is necessary to open funding. At the moment, funding takes only 1/12 of whole budget - about 580 million soms for protected expenditures. It is also necessary to hold tenders until the summer comes, in order we could built something during the summer. There are a lot of other problems."
"Anyways, the mayor promised and there was arrangement that we will come back to the budget and make amendments till June - after implementation of new structure by the mayor. It implies job cuts, reduction of several enterprises, departments which duplicate each other, the number of such departments increased in the mayor's office. All these will be corrected, budget spending will be available, he said to 24.kg news agency. - We came with this in order to consider new structure of the city council and at the same time there would be funding and trash pickup, power and gas supply won't delay. Bishkekteploenergo runs into 80 million soms debt to Kyrgyzgas. What if people will stay without hot water?"
The chairman of city council doesn't see any intrigue and hidden motive in accepted decision.
"The deputies spoke out their claims. For example, concerning schools. For standing school №25 no funds are allocated, but foundation for new schools began to lay. That's why it is necessary to allocate funds to completion of started constructions or to repair of the most important object in order to finish it till September instead of wasting money. The colleagues also asked to explain incomes from parking. What kind of policy is here? These questions are logical," said Marat Amankulov.
Why did the budget provide for income from municipal parking and if there an official document prohibiting taxes? We tried to find out it from the mayor himself.
"At the end of March we will present the program of social economic development of the city, and then we would answer all your questions. There's more to this than meets the eye... It is not that simple," Kubanychbek Kulmatov commented.
- Can you say if there a document prohibiting taxes or not?
- Do you want to spark conflict between the mayor's office and the city council? I wouldn't touch on this issue till March 20," he advised.
There is not much time left. And it will be clear on March 20 whether deputies are able to come to an agreement with the mayor and approve the budget for the current year.