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USAID Business Environment Improvement Project (BEI) – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan



Background
In October 2006, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Business Environment Improvement Project (BEI) for the countries of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Tajikistan. The 5-year BEI Project supported USAID’s strategic objectives in these countries by providing direct consultation and support to build capacity within government and private sector counterparts to promote effective dialogue, improve implementation of business-related legal reforms and streamline administrative processes for the benefit of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The BEI project built on lessons learned and achievements of previous USAID projects in the area of legal and regulatory reform in Central Asia. The project was implemented by the Pragma Corporation, a U.S.-based consulting company with 10 years of direct experience in implementing USAID projects in the region.

Goals and Structure
The goal of the BEI Project was to promote entrepreneurship and economic development by reducing the legal, regulatory, and administrative burden for SMEs by working with governments to streamline legal and regulatory processes and facilitate informed and effective dialogue between the private and public sectors. Constructive, multi-party engagement in the reform process resulted in better SME policies, deregulation at the local, national and regional level, proper implementation of laws and regulations and stronger business associations, leading to an improved business environment for SMEs and to a more diversified economic growth.

The BEI Project was structured along the following components, results and objectives:

Activities
The BEI Project worked directly with national governments, select oblast and city administrations, and private sector businesses and associations to (i) improve the quality of commercial laws and regulations and facilitate their proper drafting, implementation, administration and compliance and (ii) reduce existing constraints to economic growth by simplifying the processes and procedures of starting, operating and closing a business. The project focussed its activities in those areas with the greatest potential positive impact for SMEs in each country of operation. Some of these included, but are not limited to:

  • Business licenses and permits

  • Government inspections of business activities

  • Land site acquisition and real estate construction and development

  • Registering or deregistering a business; registering to pay taxes and social payments

  • Procedures and practices of government procurement of goods and services

  • Tax policy and tax administration

  • International arbitration and contract enforcement

Reducing constraints included eliminating restrictions on economic activities, reducing bureaucratic process and procedural documents, timeframes and costs, reducing the number of required documents, eliminating undue agency discretion, and increasing information dissemination by government counterparts.

BEI also provided consultative assistance, training and, in some cases, limited financial support to associations and select private sector groups dedicated to contributing to effective reform agendas and actively advocating for improvements in the legal environment for business.

Locations  
The BEI Project had two offices in each of the countries of operation and, to facilitate reform throughout the three countries, was supported by a network of partner associations and business groups in each country

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