How Are the Re­forms Go­ing on, and What Hin­ders Them?

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - IN THE MIRROR OF PUBLIC OPINION -

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.

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