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Decentralization of State Administration in Uzbekistan: Experiments and Reforms

By Gulnoza Ismailova, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, “Legal Basis of Management” Department, the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Decentralization and development of a modern system of citizens’ self-governance bodies became major components of transition period in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The legacy of old times, represented by political mechanism, economic system as well as institutions and practice of administration were all reconstructed in the country. Ambiguous shifts of targets along with changes in the speed of ongoing reforms characterized a long process in development of new local bodies of public authority.
Uzbekistan has accumulated own “positive and negative” experience in the area of decentralization. Having gained independence, the country underwent an acute and difficult period. The situation was significantly worsened by a series of negative trends in the economy. The deficiency of consumer goods has increased in times. The inflation has gone up. The deficit of the state budget has decreased slowly. The production and labor discipline has significantly weakened. All of that led to an increased social tension [1, p. 27].

In the Republic of Uzbekistan, the processes of reforms and democratization of the three branches of power began from the moment of gaining the independence. Transition into the market economy alongside with renewal of economic interactions called for institutional reforms, especially in the area of executive power, which in turn required formation of a congruent structure of economic administration. It shall be noted that the system of central bodies of the state administration along with a clear distribution of power among them could not provide their positive assessment within quite a short time. In spite of a large number of laws that were adopted, majority of citizens would not obey them in the early years of independence.

The processes of decentralization of the state power in the Republic of Uzbekistan have gained strength once it was secured in the Constitution. For example, in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the principle of decentralization is clearly reflected as on the territorial as well as on functional and competency levels:
1. Article 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan provides that the system of the state power is based on the principle of distribution into legislative, executive, and judicial systems.
2. Article 73 of the Constitution states that “the Republic of Karakalpakstan shall be independent in determining its administrative and territorial structure”;
3. The representative bodies of power in regions, districts, and cities and towns (except towns subordinate to district centers, as well as city districts) are Kengashes (Councils) of peoples’ deputies, headed by khokims (governors), who, based on the interests of the state and citizens, decide on the issues within their competences (Art. 99 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan).
4. Article 105 provides that “self-governing bodies in settlements, kishlaks and auls, as well as in makhallas of cities, towns, settlements, kishlaks and auls, shall be assemblies of citizens…”
The principle of decentralization is an objective pattern for any administrative system hence the effect of power cannot be achieved by strictly centralized authorities of a singular system. The form of a state and its specific features can only determine the level of applying that principle, or, more clearly, priority application of a certain form of decentralization, i.e. deconcentration, delegation, or transition of power.

By the year 1996, Uzbekistan started paying more attention to the issues of decentralization. “Based on the results achieved, and aiming at new objectives of deepening the democratic and political reforms, we shall act on the basis of achieving the ultimate goal, building a civil society. In other words, it is about construction of such a state and public structure, where a strong central power would concentrate its efforts on the key, national functions, which may include the defense, state security and security of citizens, law and order, foreign policy, formation of monetary and fiscal systems, adoption of laws, and other strategic tasks of public development. The other tasks shall be gradually transformed from the center to localities, and from state authorities to non-governmental organizations and bodies of citizens’ self-governance” [2, p. 124].
In accordance with the Law “About Reorganization of State Local Authorities in the Republic of Uzbekistan” from January, 1992, the institute of khokims (governors), leaders of representative and executive-administrative power in administrative-territorial units, was introduced at regional, district, and city levels.
In line with the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan from December 9, 2003 “About Improving the System of Republican Bodies of State Administration”, ministries, agencies, and state organizations that had been duplicating each other were abolished. [3, p. 229].
As a result:
- a total of 27 bodies of state administration and economic entities with various state administration functions were abolished;
- the remaining economic associations were deprived of authority of a body of state administration;
- the highest level of the administrative body was significantly reduced (including more than 20 high-rank officials with a status of minister, and more than 80 ? with a deputy-minister’s status);
- more than 40 thousand stat officials, carrying out administrative functions became redundant [4, p. 70].
In the course of reorganization of central bodies of state economic management, the majority of their functions were transferred down to local bodies of state administration. The local bodies of state administration, in their turn, pass some of their functions to bodies of citizens’ self-governance, and non-governmental organizations.
Local khokimiyats (governor’ office) organize tenders to transfer the city routes of public transportation to private companies. “In 2015, a number of routes of public transportation were included into the bidding lists. In particular, a total of 133 open biddings were organized, where 1,116 routes were offered, including: 205 city public transportation routes in each of 33 tenders, 799 suburban and 47 regional inter-city public transportation routes in 92 tenders, and 65 inter-city ? inter-regional public transportation routes in 8 tenders”[5].

There’s no doubt that decentralization of public administration has taken place in Uzbekistan. However, like in any country, which is undergoing reforms, our country yet to find that optimal combination of decentralization and other methods of administration (such as centralization, coordination, etc), which would allow talking about efficiency, rationality, feasibility, and, most importantly, about the high quality of public administration as a whole (at national level) as well as in its components (in regional and local levels).
List of Literature:
1. Karimov I.A. Uzbekistan on the threshold of independence
(Узбекистан на пороге достижения независимости).?Tashkent: Uzbekistan, 2011.
2. Karimov I.A. To think and work in a new time requirement (Мыслить и работать по-новому требованию времени).V 5. ?Tashkent: Uzbekistan, 1997.
3. Lex.uz
4. The National Human Development Report, 2005. ?Tashkent: Uzbekistan, 1997, 2006.
5. The Report of the Deputy Chief of “The Uzbek Agency for Automobile and River Transport” Sh.Shavahabov at The Agency’s board meeting “On results of work in 2015”, 29 January 2016//

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