On 23 June, the OECD, together with the EU and the government of Kyrgyzstan, organised a virtual peer-review session to discuss the state of public and private service provision to businesses in Kyrgyzstan and share experiences with peers from Eurasia and OECD countries
The webinar was an opportunity to discuss the OECD Peer Review Note on Supporting firm creation and growth through business development services in Kyrgyzstan, to offer recommendations and share OECD good practices, and to exchange views with peers from Eurasia and OECD member countries, including Belarus, Poland and Uzbekistan.
The webinar was opened by H.E. Professor Aleksander Surdej, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Poland to the OECD and Chair of the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Roundtable. He stressed the relevance of entrepreneurship as a driver of growth, and the need for governments to establish framework conditions that create incentives for private sector development. Ms Charlotte Adriaen, Head of the Co-operation Section of the EU Delegation to Kyrgyzstan, stressed the importance of dialogue in developing the role of SMEs as a driver of the country’s post-Covid recovery and the need to address remaining barriers to entrepreneurship growth such as digitalisation. Mr Alymbek Orozbekov, Head of the Economy and Investment Department at the Office of the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, Ms Akylai Kozhomberdieva, Head of the Entrepreneurship Regulation Policy Department at the Ministry of Economy of Kyrgyzstan, and H.E. Mr Muktar Djumaliev, Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to Belgium discussed the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Kyrgyzstan’s economy. Even though fiscal constraints have limited the government’s ability to respond to the crisis, SME support has been at the core of measures, in particular through tax, lowering social contributions, and loan deferrals.
The panel discussion offered an opportunity to discuss the measures implemented by Kyrgyzstan to support firm growth through business development services (BDS). Ms Talisa Zur Hausen (OECD) presented the main findings of the OECD Peer Review Note. Based on a survey of 250 Kyrgyz firms, the Note recommends that the government improve public service provision for businesses, assess the demand for such services to narrow the mismatch with SME needs, and stimulate private BDS supply to foster business growth.
Ms Nuria Kutnaeva, Director of Tunduk, then underlined that Kyrgyzstan has steadily increased the online availability of public services to businesses over the past years, inspired by the Estonian model, and is currently developing digital one-stop-shops, something raised as a priority for many firms in the OECD’s survey. Mr Robin Ord-Smith, Business Ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan, highlighted the need to ease the operational environment of firms, in particular by digitalising public services with a view to cost reduction and lowering opportunities for corruption.
In her role as lead reviewer, Ms Martyna Wieczorek, Senior Expert at the Department of SMEs at the Ministry of Economic Development of Poland, drew lessons from the Polish experience and underlined that e-government can reduce the administrative costs for businesses and be an opportunity to set common standards. Finally, Mr Yury Chebotar, Deputy Minister of Economy of Belarus, and Ms Adile Keshfetdinova, Consultant at the Public Services Agency at the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan, discussed the Kyrgyz experience in the light of the reforms implemented in their countries.
An instant poll of participants showed that market access services were thought to be the most effective services for firm growth by 45% of the participants, while 64% thought that digital tax administration and transition of firms to e-commerce should be the core digitalisation response. During the open discussion, participants could exchange with panellists on various issues related to current policies on BDS and firm growth, the importance of digitalisation, and the impact of measures taken by the government in light of the Covid-19 crisis to support service provision.
The session was concluded by Ambassadors Surdej and Djumaliev with both underlining the importance of collaboration with the OECD and the EU in developing Kyrgyzstan’s private sector. Moving forward, the OECD confirmed its readiness to continue its successful co-operation with Kyrgyzstan for recovery planning and longer-term reforms, including on the legal environment for business.