Opening an electricity box in the staircase of a residential building can be quite hazardous, and the inside often looks like a man’s intestines as seen on operation tables. As for gas, water and sewage systems, worn-out hardware is their network’s main feature as well. Realising that funds for thorough, major-scale workovers are absent, the authorities of the Kyrgyz capital have listed priorities with the first and foremost aim to avoid calamities for its 0.9 million-plus urban dwellers..

 

photograph © 2014 Charles van der Leeuw

photograph © 2014 Charles van der Leeuw

“About 90 million soms are allocated for repair of heating networks of Bishkek,” 24.kg wrote in a news report [http://www.eng.24.kg/economics/171588-news24.html] referring to the general director of Bishkekteploset Erkin Abdykalykov. “The network in the 7th district is being reconstructed now, which will increase the capacity of the pipeline. Their service life will increase by 25 years. At the same time, the loss of heat to standard indicators will reduce. “Tekhnotop” Organization performs the work; it completed the reconstruction at 80 percent. By September, the network will be completely restored. In addition, the network at Fuchika, Kiev streets, and in the southern districts is repaired. In general, equipment deterioration of Bishkekteploset is 70 percent. About 300 km of network can be replaced. However, annually not more than 8 km are replaced.”

 

But reports on how to fund Bishkek’s facelift tend to contradict each other. “Only 150 million som out of 7 billion per year have been allocated for the development of Bishkek,” 24.kg [] quoted the Mayor of the capital Kubanychbek Kulmatov as recently telling a public forum called Mekendeshter-2014. “According to him, the new program development Bishkek till 2018 provides an investment in the development of the capital totaling 24 billion som.”

 

Other officials come with different figures, and different breakdowns as well. “Spending on housing and public utilities will increase by 880 percent and amount to 5,120309 trillion som in 2015, the chief of city financial department Ernis Zarlykov was quoted by 24.kg [http://www.eng.24.kg/bishkek24/171561-news24.html] as telling a special session of the Bishkek City Council Commission on Budget and Finance. “On municipal property management alone it is planned to spend 39.4155 billion soms. The budget project also provides for capital investment of 3,528,241.6 billion for city needs,” the report read – adding, however, that “…deputies criticized the submitted cost structure”. “It is pointed out that the money will be spent on construction of social facilities, drafting detailed city planning, engineering networks and to allocate resources for the equity of the city budget in the construction of houses. Formulations about how it is planned to spend the money, are blurred. How will you protect the expenditure part of the project in the Ministry of Finance, if you don’t know exactly how the money will be used, and can’t even explain it to us?” city deputy Ernis Dokenov was quoted as protesting against the city’s policy..

 

As a result, the entire budget has been rejected – unanimously and disregarding political adherences within the City Council, as though its members wanted to give a clear signal that they have the interests of their voters on their minds to further extents than the interests of their party bosses. “The City Council Commission on Budget and Finance has rejected the draft expenditure budget of Bishkek for 2015,” the news agency wrote in a separate report [http://www.eng.24.kg/bishkek24/171560-news24.html] – adding that the decision was made unanimously following long and heated debates. “There are too many discrepancies in proposed draft document. There is such an impression that the explanatory notes to the original draft budget of Bishkek were presented to us just with the aim to mislead us. If we approve the project in such form then other deputies will have questions for us,” 24.kg quoted Ernis Dokenov as commenting. A new variant of the capital expenditure within the budget and its the financial management should submit the following week.”

 

At the heart of the problem, though, lies the fact that the city of Bishkek does not generate enough economic activity to pay up for its economic needs. “Industrial enterprises of Bishkek manufactured products totaling 14,714 billion som for six months,” 24.kg reported [http://www.eng.24.kg/economics/171585-news24.html] referring to the municipality. “According to the Cabinet, the share of the city in total industrial output of the country is 22.3 percent. Of the 15 industries the volume index is not provided in six industries. The gross agricultural output in January-June 2014 amounted to 159.7 million som and decreased by 2.6 percent compared with the same period 2013. The share of the city is 0.3 per cent of the total volume of the republic. The city attracted foreign direct investment of $ 80.3 million for the I quarter, or 24.2 percent less than in I quarter of 2013.”