How Are the Reforms Going on, and What Hinders Them?
The Ijtimoiy Fikr Center for the Study of Public Opinion conducts a poll “Citizens of Uzbekistan on the Message of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to the Oliy Majlis” on a quarterly basis in order to identify popular views about the effectiveness of the goals and objectives set by the head of state in this document.
The sociological survey carried out in the third quarter of 2018 is a more detailed study of people’s opinions on the implementation of the priority directions in the national socio-economic and political development, carried out in the framework of this program.
The study confirms the nationwide support of the country’s population for socioeconomic reforms aimed at the comprehensive and accelerated development of the state and society, the liberalization of all spheres of life, the consolidation of the standing and image of our country in the international arena, and elevation of the well-being of citizens.
More than a third of the population (34.9%) believes that the reform of the public administration system with the transfer of some powers from the national authorities to the level of regions, cities, districts, is carried out at a rapid pace. Respondents of the poll noted that they can really feel the solutions to their most urgent problems and believed that very difficult situations in various aspects of life across the regions of the country can be addressed on the ground.
The survey revealed the main reasons hindering the reform of the public administration system: they are bureaucratic obstacles taking place in some public organizations and local authorities, shortage of qualified, professional and initiative-driven personnel, lack of readiness, and in some cases unwillingness of some officials to change anything in the existing system, indifference of individual staff members of local authorities to the needs and problems of the population.
Positive tendencies were revealed in the assessments of citizens in the pace of implementation of measures to support NGOs and the formation of a civil society in the country. However, 32.9% of respondents note that civil society is developing at a slow pace, many non-governmental non-profit organizations exist formally and the development of the non-governmental sector does not receive proper development. And the role of NGOs in solving socially significant issues in society and interacting with government agencies to eliminate existing problems is not enough.
More than half of citizens (61.9%) in order to further improve the work on the development of civil society institutions in the country and increase their role in democratization and liberalization of various spheres of society’s life consider it necessary to take effective measures to promote political and legal culture, and social responsibility in society. According to 56.4% of the polled, in order to optimize the activities of NGOs and enhance the institutions of civil society, it is necessary to involve wide sections of the population in addressing socially important issues, to stimulate social and political activity of citizens, to strengthen the role of the media in shaping the population’s positive attitude towards non-governmental organizations and civil institutions.
According to the interviewed, the Presidential Decree “On measures to fundamentally enhance the role of civil society institutions in the process of democratic renewal of the country”, signed 4 May 2018, will contribute to the perfection of the activities of NGOs and establishment of constructive dialogue between the government and civil society to address a wide range of social problems.
40.1% of survey participants believe that the modernization of the judicial system is carried out at an average rate. Moreover, almost 62% of respondents expressed the opinion that the process of reforming the judicial and legal system is holding back “the abuse of power by some officials”. Participants of the survey cited a significant impediment to the successful implementation of judicial and legal reform by the lack of qualifications of the judicial and legal system specialists, the bureaucracy of some representatives of this sphere, the unwillingness to change the system that has been developed over the years, as well as the low level of legal culture and literacy of certain segments of the population.
The number of citizens positively assessing the pace of implementation of measures aimed at liberalizing the economy, improving the business environment and the investment climate, and simplifying the mechanisms for the provision of public services to entrepreneurs has been growing. According to 46.4% of survey volunteers, measures aimed at further improving the business climate, eliminating existing barriers to entrepreneurship, and reducing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to its development are carried out at a rapid pace and are effective.
At the same time, 61.1% of respondents believe that the main obstruction to the implementation of measures to liberalize the economy is the insufficient legal culture of business representatives. In their opinion, a significant part of entrepreneurs do not know the legislation well, which establishes and regulates this type of activity, is not sufficiently aware of the legal mechanisms for protecting their rights and legitimate interests, and is not guided by the methods of legal protection of business activity.
Among the reasons constraining the further development of the economy are underscored the bureaucratic hindrance and resistance of some officials to the reform of the existing system, unwillingness to change and work in a new way, lack of qualification of personnel.
Monitoring of the survey revealed a tendency of growth in the number of citizens who assess the pace of development and modernization of the social sphere of the country as fast. This indicates that the population is already feeling the positive changes taking place in the country in the social sector, including on issues such as promoting employment, developing and modernizing road transport, engineering and communication and social infrastructure, improving citizens’, especially of residents of remote areas, access to electricity, natural gas, affordable housing.
In the opinion of respondents, the lack of professional staff capable of realizing the identified priority areas is holding back modernization of the social sphere.
The examination revealed that 37.9% of citizens are not satisfied with the pace of implementation of healthcare reform, the level and quality of medical care that does not meet modern requirements. The main factors slowing down the implementation of transformation in this area are the lack of professionalism of individual healthcare workers, corruption in medical institutions, the high cost of medical services in private clinics and the low quality of free medical care in family clinics and rural medical centers, low salaries of doctors and medical staff.
The majority of survey participants shared the view that positive changes have been taking place recently in the field of education: conditions are improving in kindergartens and schools, existing buildings are being renovated and new buildings are being constructed meeting modern requirements. Particularly noted are innovations aimed at improving the procedure for conducting admission tests to higher educational institutions that contribute to the prevention of corruption, provide transparency of testing and the ability to monitor applicants taking examinations online.
There are positive changes in the system of public education – the level of spiritual and moral, intellectual and physical development of students, the status and authority of the teacher’s profession increases, the material and social support for the staff of general schools is improved, innovative forms of education, modern pedagogical and innovative technologies are being introduced, new generation educational and methodological literature is published. In the third quarter of 2018, the number of respondents increased by 9.3%, noting that education is being reformed at a fast speed.
Among the reasons and factors constraining the modernization of the education system, citizens point out the still formal attitude to their work of responsible local workers, bureaucracy and low executive discipline of workers in this sphere, insufficient pay for teachers and educators of colleges, lyceums and universities. An obstacle in the way of reforms in this sphere is the lack of highly qualified professional personnel, the decline of the prestige of the profession, and the unwillingness of young people to engage in teaching.
As the sociological study showed, under the leadership of the head of state, effective measures are being taken in the country to ensure peace, stability and security not only in Uzbekistan, but also in the Central Asian region as a whole. According to the polled, the issues of bolstering the defense potential, regional and international cooperation, countering the spread of extremist and terrorist ideas in Uzbekistan, protecting the rights and freedoms of citizens, ensuring environmental safety have become priority areas for reform. The tendency of growth in the number of citizens who have noted positive changes in the country, contributing to furthering the security and stability, ensuring a peaceful and harmonious life, protecting public order has been revealed.
The results of the study convincingly confirm that the Uzbek society is dominated by the conviction that the reforms being implemented will build up the economic and political potential of Uzbekistan, and further the human, technical and intellectual capacities of the country.