President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbai Zheenbekov gave another interview to the radio station "Birinchi radio".
Below is the transcript of the interview with the Head of State:
- Good afternoon, dear listeners. On "Birinchi Radio" the program "Open Dialogue with the President". Traditionally, we want to address the Head of State on topical issues in the life of the country.
Good afternoon Sooronbai Sharipovich.
- Good afternoon.
- Dear President, the epidemiological situation in the country seems to be stabilizing. However, doctors do not exclude the possibility of a sharp change in the situation. You gave instructions to renovate hospitals in the regions, open additional buildings, and provide medical equipment. How is the preparation going to be ready for any development of the situation?
- We regularly exchange information with Prime Minister Kubatbek Ayilchievich about the progress of work, discuss current issues and plans for the future.
We are in constant communication.
In addition, as you know, every week we determine the main issues on the country's agenda online with him and get acquainted with the urgent tasks of the government.
One of these most important matters is the provision of additional beds for regional hospitals.
According to the government, work is currently underway at 12 sites.
Major repairs are underway in 9 hospitals located in the regions.
For what purpose are we doing this?
Recently, the head of the WHO openly stated that no one can predict exactly when the planet will be free from this infection. Even after the invention of the vaccine, humanity must be prepared for various situations of the spread of infection.
We are taking steps to prepare for a possible second wave of warned infections.
Previously, many beds were eliminated, good hospitals and medical buildings were closed due to various reforms and programs. They have not functioned for 15, 20 years. We are carrying out major repairs in these buildings so that they can work and serve the interests of the population.
As a result of this work, over a thousand beds for patients will be created throughout the republic.
As you know, the construction of an infectious diseases hospital with 100 beds has started in Bishkek. The Prime Minister visited Osh, where the construction of an infectious diseases hospital with 100 beds has begun. Construction of a 70-bed hospital has begun in Naryn.
We plan to complete the construction of all these facilities as soon as possible, and the relevant instructions have been given.
The financing issue has been resolved, it will be financed from the budget.
These hospitals will provide medical equipment, furniture and everything needed. The government, together with local authorities, is monitoring the progress of work in this direction.
I am fully aware of this.
Recently he visited Talas and Issyk-Kul regions, visited Karakol, Cholpon-Ata, got acquainted with the progress of work, which is being carried out in an intensive mode.
As I noted earlier, new type hospitals will be built in cities and regional centers, which will provide comprehensive medical services to the population.
All this will be done to create comfortable conditions for our citizens.
We want to create conditions so that a sick person can receive comprehensive medical services in one place, and not travel from one end of the city to another to get help. This is the desire of all Kyrgyzstanis.
The construction of such hospitals will be carried out according to the principle of public-private partnership. There are investors who want to cooperate in this area.
If we start work now, then there are investors who are ready to invest in the construction of a hospital worth up to $ 100 million.
There are entrepreneurs who are ready to carry out construction using the most advanced technology.
We also have such businessmen in our country.
Due to the lack of proper attention, work on the principle of public-private partnership was practically not carried out. Now we are trying to revive this cooperation.
How will this be different? The fact that these hospitals will be equipped with the most advanced technologies. Our citizens who have serious illnesses have to go for treatment to Turkey, to Russia. But thanks to the implementation of these plans, they will have the opportunity to receive treatment in their country.
There are already interested investors. I demand from local authorities that they work effectively on this issue. There are investors, there are funds. You just need to involve them and get started. This issue is under my control.
- You continue to travel to the regions. The pandemic has revealed a number of problems in the regions. What other problems are there in the regions? How, in your opinion, is your presidential policy on regional development being implemented? In general, how do you assess the situation in the regions?
- You are well aware that after taking office as President, with respective decree, I declared 2018 the Year of Regional Development.
Why this decision was made?
I worked in the regions for quite a long time. I know firsthand about the urgent problems of the village. The local authorities have neither the capacity nor the means to solve these problems. As a result, migration intensified, people from the countryside rushed to where there is an opportunity to earn money - to Russia, to Kazakhstan, to other countries. Internal migration has also intensified - to Bishkek, Osh, to regional centers.
Since for many years the central government did not pay due attention to the development of regions, remote highland areas, funds were not allocated to create conditions in areas that could keep people in their native village - to develop the processing industry, medical services, education, irrigation systems, and ensure clean drinking water. water. That is why all the last 3 years have been declared the Year of Regional Development.
For what purpose?
When we were prime minister, we adopted a program. We have identified 20 cities as support cities.
In order to build industrial enterprises in these cities, around them, which will process local products and export them for export, create the same living conditions as in Bishkek, Osh, so that people can earn money where they live. Work in this direction continues.
We always say that 70% of the population lives in rural areas. But in fact, many have left the villages.
Although they are registered in the village, many are located in Russia, Kazakhstan, Bishkek, Osh, Dazhalal-Abad, Karakol, in regional centers.
We must create conditions for them to return to their native village, or at least make it so that the younger generation, young people stay there, can live and earn money on their native land.
What needs to be done for this? It is necessary to direct state funds for these purposes.
We changed this policy. Today, all the possibilities of the state, budget, funds, such as the Kyrgyz-Russian Fund, as well as funds raised from outside, go to the regions.
Local entrepreneurs who intend to purchase and process local products, say meat, milk, wool, leather, the famous Batken apricot or Talas products, must be provided with the necessary funds, it is necessary to develop industry in high mountain areas, create jobs, which will help to keep people on places, as well as purchase products of local farmers and export them.
This approach will solve problems in a comprehensive manner. Suppose funds are provided to an entrepreneur, he will create jobs. Even if the enterprise employs 20-30 people, they will have the opportunity to feed their families. The same entrepreneur will pay taxes to the local budget. The local authorities will have the means to solve local problems.
And the farmers' products will be sold, exported at good prices, they themselves will know how to produce, where to sell, that is, there will be specialization. To this end, we are channeling funds to the regions.
Secondly, in order to create favorable conditions for farmers and rural entrepreneurs they gave concessions. Benefits have been provided for many taxes, especially for those who work in the border and high mountain areas.
Why do I talk a lot about clean water?
About 60 percent of the population needs clean drinking water.
Clean water is health, the future of our children. Without clean water, it is impossible to improve the health of the population, there will be many diseases and sick people. Where there is clean water, there are fewer diseases. Everything is related to food and water.
Providing the population with clean water is one of the main promises I made during the presidential elections.
Now I am working on this, I hope that until 2024 inclusively, the whole of Kyrgyzstan will be provided with clean water.
Throughout the country, 822 villages were identified that were not provided with clean water, before that 615 villages were identified. After that 207 villages were added.
Over the past 3 years, 107 villages have been provided with clean water. By 2024, it is necessary to provide 715 more villages. To date, lists of 588 villages have been compiled, sources of financing in the amount of 33 billion soms on a grant basis and long-term loans have been identified.
In addition to budget funds, funds from international financial institutions are attracted to implement the clean water project.
With the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Union and the Swiss Confederation, major projects worth 14,700 million soms are being implemented in 20 cities.
More than 65 percent of these funds are provided in the form of grants, and the rest - as loans for 15 years at low interest rates.
The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, Saudi Fund for Development, Qatar Charitable Foundation, Al-Safa and Al-Salam foundations are actively helping to resolve the issue of providing regions with clean water. I personally met with their leaders, during the conversation I asked them to pay attention to projects in the field of clean water, irrigation, construction of social facilities, and FOSs.
Let me remind you that until 2014, 25 million soms were allocated from the republican budget to solve the problem with clean water.
Later, the amount was increased to 50 million. If we continue at the same pace, we will not be able to achieve the goal in 100 years. Therefore, we started to increase funding. In 2018, 250 million soms were allocated for the clean water sector, and we intend to bring this amount to 500 million soms.
As I noted above, my main goal is to provide clean water to all regions of Kyrgyzstan, and we will achieve this goal. This is a very important issue, an ambitious large program. No matter how difficult it is, we will implement it until 2024. We will provide all Kyrgyzstanis with clean water.
The second pressing issue is that we have a lot of land, but due to a lack of funds, issues related to the development of the irrigation system were not resolved. We have adopted an irrigation program until 2026.
Our goal is to build an irrigation system on such lands, build settlements on them, create jobs where our youth will work.
This is a major program, a national project. We need to attract funds for its implementation. It will not be easy to implement, I know that. It will be very difficult.
Nevertheless, we have adopted a state program for the development of irrigation until 2026.
It will be implemented in three stages. 2 stages will be implemented during my presidency.
By 2024, 31 water facilities will be commissioned. As a result, 27 thousand hectares of new irrigated land will be developed. Water supply to 46 thousand hectares of land will be improved. In 2018–2019, 1,364 hectares of new irrigated land were developed in the republic. This year, it is planned to develop 1,700 hectares of new irrigated land.
I would especially like to note the irrigation projects being implemented in the Batken region. The issue of water is especially acute here - both clean drinking and irrigation water.
When I was Minister of Agriculture, a major project was planned that was later put on hold. During the premiership, I was at this facility. When he became President, he gave instructions to start work. This is the construction of the Maksat siphon in the Leilek region. It will start work in the fall. The project will be launched in 2023.
In the border regions, 1,800 hectares of new irrigated land will appear.
The land will be transferred from a pumped irrigation system to a conventional one.
Many projects are being implemented in Batken region, as the migration flow is large here. And questions about the border often arise here. And there is no clean water. It is necessary to build social facilities. In order to keep people in place, create jobs, we pay special attention to the issue of irrigation. All projects included in the program will be implemented, not only in Batken, but also in all regions of the republic.
On the part of the government, purposeful work is being carried out to implement program tasks. But I would like to say that local authorities - heads of regions, districts, ayil okmotu - should work actively, control the quality of implementation of these tasks.
The rational use of allocated funds and the quality of objects depend on this. When I meet with local residents, I tell them that these funds belong to them, so that they demand that every penny of funds is effectively used. I hope that all projects will be successfully implemented with the support of the population.
As for the social sphere in the regions, it must be admitted that there are many unsolved problems in this sector. As you noted, the pandemic has exposed many burning issues.
We all know very well that the health care system has been out of sight of the state for years and has been falling apart.
As a result of various reforms, FOSs were destroyed and hospitals were liquidated.
Today we are restoring them. It will take years to restore what has been destroyed over the years. This is not an easy task. We, together with the executive power and local self-government bodies, are constantly working in this direction.
For three years we have been working on this task, work on restoring FOSs was started when I was prime minister. We will continue this activity with the help of various funds, with the support of the state. When meeting with investors, I always raise the issue of creating conditions for residents of remote highland regions in need of medical care.
I recently visited the Issyk-Kul region and met with the doctors of the city of Cholpon-Ata. Veteran doctor Zhekshenbek Kyrgyzbaev raised urgent issues in this area. He said that had it not been for this pandemic, the state would hardly have remembered the doctors. Unfortunately, it must be admitted that this is a bitter truth.
The problem was raised related to the drain of personnel, in particular - of young people. Indeed, it is difficult to say something to doctors who receive 5000-7000 soms. This problem has been accumulating over the years. It cannot be solved in one year. Our goal is to increase salaries and improve the quality of medical care.
For 1.5 years, health issues were being prepared for consideration by the Security Council of the Kyrgyz Republic, whose meeting was supposed to take place in March this year. However, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, this issue was postponed.
As the situation stabilizes, we will return to this issue and create an additional working group. We will definitely consider the issue of the health care system at a meeting of the Security Council and take measures to remedy the situation in this sector.
- Now the process of digitalization of the country is underway. You said that this would contribute to the disclosure of the shadow economy, and the proceeds will be used to increase the salaries of our doctors. How long can this process take?
- As you know, we have also announced this year as the Year of Regional Development, Digitalization of the Country and Support for Children. We will digitize all areas.
The main goal of digitalization is to eliminate the shadow turnover of funds in all spheres of the economy, including in the healthcare sector. Due to this, an increase in the salaries of teachers, doctors and other public sector workers, especially social workers, by replenishing the budget through digitalization.
Digitalization takes time. It started late in our country. But now we are already seeing results. Particular emphasis is placed on accelerating the digitalization of customs, tax and other areas where funds come from.
I cannot give empty promises that we will raise salaries today or tomorrow. But the sooner we introduce digitalization, depending on this, salaries will increase. Earlier, we raised the salaries of a group of family doctors. Now we will start raising the salaries of those who work in hospitals. An instruction has been given on this issue, work is underway, and a search is underway for possible ways. We will definitely do it.
- In a previous interview, you said that in the civil service, priority will be given to the best personnel. In society, they talk about the need to reduce the number of civil servants. Will the requirements for optimization of civil service, rational and economical functioning of state structures be strengthened?
- This is a very good question. We were all convinced of this during the pandemic. The whole world is faced with this phenomenon. It became obvious that the private sector, the business community, and government agencies can and should change their activities.
I already had thoughts on this, and in the current situation they have become stronger.
This is the imperative of the times. This is a must. Of course, our state will agree to carry out such reforms. There was a lot of talk about the administrative-territorial reform in the country. It will be done soon. We are ready for this.
For various reasons, this reform was not carried out. But, after the parliamentary elections, we will start this reform.
As a result, many overlapping state structures will be eliminated, there will be changes and reductions. This will help the government system operate more efficiently, reduce bureaucracy and resolve problems faster.
- Sooronbai Sharipovich, an unpleasant incident happened again near the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. When will the end of the events of concern to local residents come? How is the process of delimitation and demarcation of the state border going?
- When solving the border issue, of course, first of all, it is necessary to take into account the interests of our country.
Each state pursues its own interests. This is the complexity of the question.
At present, work continues to clarify the border with neighboring Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Intergovernmental working groups carry out continuous work, being constantly in touch.
Work has progressed well, but the coronavirus pandemic has put it on hold. We will continue to work in this direction.
Especially on the issue of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border territories.
No matter where I met with my respected Tajik colleague Emomali Rahmon, we always discuss the border issue.
There are some progress, but, as noted above, the problem has not yet been resolved. There is mutual understanding between the two countries.
Border tensions are sometimes exacerbated by domestic issues.
Therefore, local authorities are actively working with the population.
The government includes a deputy prime minister who deals with border issues. Akram Kambaralievich was the akim of the Kadamjai region, the plenipotentiary in the Batken region, he knows this problem well.
In order to reduce tension, special attention is paid to socio-economic projects in border villages and regions. Batken is at the center of my special attention.
We pay great attention to the repair of roads, the construction of schools, FOSs, hospitals, kindergartens and other social facilities.
We will not stop this work even under the conditions of the budget deficit and the current difficult situation.
But the border issue, as mentioned above, cannot be resolved unilaterally.
This is a question that has arisen since our country gained independence.
We will continue this work through dialogue, and I am sure that the issue will be resolved.
- Sooronbai Sharipovich, thank you for taking the time to answer urgent questions. Thank you very much!
- Thank you too, I wish you success.