EGI Kyrgyzstan partner Unison was appointed to co-chair the supervisory board of the Fuel and Energy Security Transparency Initiative (FESTI) with the Ministry of Energy.
In April 2010, the Kyrgyz government fell, in part because of mismanagement of the energy sector and a loss of public trust in the government’s ability to provide essential services and to manage national assets. In response, the new government announced FESTI as a transparency initiative designed to rebuild public confidence. The inclusion of transparency indicators in the FESTI program marks a dramatic shift from the way business is done in the Kyrgyz energy sector, and is designed to restore the public’s confidence not only in the management of the sector but in the government as a whole. The 18 indicators of transparency include indicators of transparency in government institutions, donor participation, and criteria of confidentiality as applied to the energy sector. Implementation of transparency measures will promote accountability in a sector plagued by corruption, blackouts, and high losses of electricity, and create a framework for transparency around energy imports and exports with neighboring countries.
The appointment of Unison to this position indicates that the Ministry of Energy is committed to working closely with civil society in implementing the FESTI program, which has been heavily informed by EGI indicators of transparency.
The EGI team worked with Unison to leverage the assessment report to provide recommendations to the transitional government, and the influence of EGI’s methodology in the development of FESTI indicators is evident. USAID, who was also involved in the development of the FESTI indicators, consulted closely with Unison during the development phase. The Head of the FESTI Commission, Batrykul Beyetov, who is the new Secretary of the Ministry of Energy, led a delegation of Kyrgyz officials to participate in a good governance and regulation workshop hosted by EGI in Pune in November 2010. Upon his return to Kyrgyzstan, he published an article about the workshop that was published in the most widely read newspaper in Kyrgyzstan (Slovo Kyrgyzstana, with a weekly circulation of 30,000) and in the EGI listserve with 125 subscribers interested in transparency in the energy sector. In the article, Mr. Bayetov publically affirms the importance of a range of institutional mechanisms to promote transparency. In the second meeting of the Supervisory Board, the group took up the options for improving transparency, accountability and participation in Kyrgyzstan that were developed by the Kyrgyz delegation at the Pune workshop. That delegation included also the new head of the regulatory department and several other civil society organizations.