Why Lower Penalties for Entrepreneurs Might Be Helpful in Kazakhstan

Country’s lawmakers suggest reducing fines for violating quarantine regime

Deputies of the Kazakhstani parliament from Ak Zhol faction proposed in their letter to Prime Minister Askar Mamin a 50% reduction in the size of the fine for violation of sanitary and epidemiological standards. According to their suggestion, this reduction can help fight corruption, which is thriving because entrepreneurs want to avoid those fines amid the pandemic.

According to the Administrative Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, entrepreneurs who violate sanitary and epidemiological standards face a fine from 600,000 to 4.4 million tenge (from $1400 to $10,350). Given the amount of suffering that local business has already endured during the pandemic, these fines are too big.

«Unfortunately, it’s common practice when official monitoring groups require entrepreneurs to illegally pay them 50,000 tenge ($117) or more by using the threat of a big fine as a tool to get money. There are about two thousand food businesses and the same number of other service sector facilities in each Kazakhstani town on average, so the corruption rent can reach the amount of 100 million tenge ($235,266) per month,» said Mazhilis Deputy Azat Peruashev.

As he noted, fines and raids that are demonstrated for the press are carried out against only those entrepreneurs who refuse to pay while some inspectors provoke businesses to break the rules.

«We do not protect violators. We demand strict observance of the law. Those who have paid bribes still ignore the rules and their business might be a source of infection. In fact, this monitoring has little or no effect in terms of preventing the spread of the infection,» the deputy said.

Peruashev also underlined that there is no clear procedure of how these monitoring groups are created and work. Therefore, he requested the government to instruct the Anti-Corruption Agency to take the activities of these monitoring groups under control.

Earlier, several entrepreneurs from Nur-Sultan, who were fined for violation of sanitary and epidemiological standards, expressed their disagreement with the fines. They insist that the decision of the chief sanitary doctor is not a legal act and can’t be the basis for administrative penalties.

During the first six months of the quarantine, more than 300 entrepreneurs from Nur-Sultan were ordered to pay fines for violation of sanitary norms. The total amount of fines was more than 110 million tenge ($258,792).

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