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IBC head expresses the business community’s opinion regarding the bill on NPOs

October 19, 2023

On October 17, 2023, Executive Director of the International Business Council Askar Sydykov spoke at parliamentary hearings on the draft Law “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Kyrgyz Republic (Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On Non-Profit Organizations”, Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic).”

The IBC head expressed the opinion of the business community, whose experts, after careful analysis and discussion, discovered a number of risks in the bill. These risks are listed in detail in the IBC written comments and proposals sent to the initiators of the bill.

“Democracy, individual freedom and the protection of human rights are among the main drivers of innovation and rapid economic growth. In this regard, the opportunity to openly express one’s opinion and participate in public activities, including through NGOs, directly affects the quality of decisions made in the country and economic growth,” said Askar Sydykov.

The promotion and protection of human rights also influence the development of entrepreneurial and creative skills, and contribute to attracting the most qualified personnel to our country and preventing brain drain.

Ultimately, each adopted law affects the position of Kyrgyzstan in international rankings, including the CPI (as of 2023, the Kyrgyz Republic ranks 144th out of 180), Human Freedom Index, Global Innovation Index, and the democracy rating, Index of Economic Freedom (Kyrgyzstan is classified as “mostly unfree countries”), World Press Freedom Index (this year the Kyrgyz Republic dropped 50 positions compared to 2022, taking 122nd place out of 180 countries).

Meanwhile, investors pay attention to these ratings.

“Democracy and personal freedom are often the main Kyrgyzstan’s advantages, which we talk about abroad with investors, since this is truly our competitive benefit in the region,” said the IBC head.

In addition, there are risks of revising the GSP+ (Generalized System of Preferences) status for Kyrgyzstan if the situation with the protection of human rights worsens.

In July 2023, a resolution of the European Parliament was adopted, which recommended revising the GSP+ status granted to Kyrgyzstan in 2016 as a country that ratified international conventions on human rights and labor rights. The GSP+ scheme gives special incentive to Kyrgyz producers to export 6,200 commodity items to Europe at zero tariff rates. This status is granted to only nine countries in the world.

Freedom of speech and independent media, some of which are registered as non-profit organizations, play a special role not only for the business community, but also for society as a whole. Consequently, they may be subject to additional obligations under the proposed legislation.

“In this regard, we consider it important to note the risks for freedom of speech contained in this bill. Comments and proposals voiced by public organizations, including through the media, are very important for expressing the opinions of various categories of society and for improving the quality of decisions made,” said Sydykov.

Business is pleased to note that many of the public’s comments on the bill under discussion are also reflected in the corresponding conclusion of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic.