For A Stronger Kazakhstan

Author: Munir Ahmed

On September 1, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented a new vision of “A Fair State. One Nation. Prosperous Society” for Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia. His address was full of confidence and trust in his people as he believed his country had entered a new stage of development.

In a nationwide referendum, the majority of citizens of Kazakhstan supported the course of political modernisation. The constitutional reforms are being considered a fundamental step in the creation of a “New Fair Kazakhstan.” It will be based on structural economic transformation and the restructuring of “citizen-business-state” relations. Indeed, a visionary step to ensure equality of opportunities and justice for all.

A fair Kazakhstan will ensure a high level of public welfare and support for socially vulnerable categories of the population, including citizens with special needs. The relevant institution of the Ombudsperson under the President will be established. The state will fully support economic freedom, but at the same time, it will resolutely protect citizens against excessive market fluctuations. Small and medium-sized businesses will be vigorously developed.

Kazakhstan’s new economic policy is determined to resolve complex systemic problems, including dependence on raw materials, low labour productivity, insufficient innovation, and unequal income distribution. The new economic reforms ensure macroeconomic stability, economic diversification, digitalisation, and development of small and medium-sized businesses, human capital, and the rule of law. Kazakh president believes that these reforms will help achieve the basic goal of their economic policy: qualitative and inclusive growth as well as the well-being of citizens.

Over the last three decades, Kazakhstan has evolved enormously from a soviet state to a modern and market-driven country

The priorities of the new economy will stimulate private entrepreneurial initiative, which means moving away from state capitalism and excessive government intervention in the economy; developing competition to ensure equal opportunities for all and a fair distribution of the national income.

In the new economic regime, the government will have no interference in the pricing of the goods except in the non-competitive markets. The tariffs of monopolists will remain under tight control, but not pressure. Institutional solutions will be developed to further de-monopolise the economy. A clear, predictable tax policy will be in place to ensure sustainable economic growth. A very important point that President Tokayev made was, “We need to learn to live within our means.”

Following this principle, Kazakhstan’s new budget policy will move from budget management to results management–cost versus efficiency. The government will provide systemic support for entrepreneurship by doing regulations from scratch. In providing financial support, the state will give priority to competitive small and medium-sized enterprises.

Another important sector for Kazakhstan will be subsoil development in the coming years. The country will be simplifying legislation and procedures to attract investment in the sector and creation of a unified data bank of geological information. Kazakhstan will also be focusing on the effectiveness of all special economic zones. The relocation of foreign enterprises to Kazakhstan will have some lucrative investment incentives. The architectural and construction sector generates five to six per cent of Kazakhstan’s GDP, which is regulated by more than 2,500 different documents. “A confusing, bureaucratic system has been formed that breeds corruption,” the president said in his speech, asking the government to adopt a conceptually new document–the Urban Planning Code. In this new framework, functional interactive maps of land plots and schemes of utility networks would be created for each city.

President Tokayev’s new vision for Kazakhstan emphasises sustainable, climate-smart agricultural development to ensure food security in Kazakhstan. After the Ukraine war, Kazakhstan has been facing a food grain shortage. He has, thus, asked the government to develop a new strategic framework to increase the volume of production and the value added to domestic agricultural products.

Realising the people are the main value of any country, the new reforms are expected to ensure a fair distribution of national wealth and equal opportunity for every citizen. President Tokayev believes in the harmonious development of society that he trusts is possible only if the health of the nation is ensured. In the coming years, the Kazakh government will reform the health financing system and other critical issues in the same realm. “It is necessary to finally launch a system of voluntary health insurance. I instruct the government to reconsider its approaches to financing health care and the social sphere in general,” President Tokayev asked its government.

By 2025, Kazakhstan will create 800,000 seats for students in their three-shift educational institutions to meet modern requirements. This measure will significantly level the difference between the quality of educational infrastructure in urban and rural areas. The construction of new schools will also be a priority agenda for the Kazakh government. The money seized from corrupt officials will be spent on building new schools. Next year, about 100,000 Kazakh youth will be covered by various employment measures. To support youth entrepreneurship, a separate mechanism of preferential micro-crediting at 2.5 per cent per annum will be launched. Kazakhstan will be developing a new realm of managers to shape a fair Kazakhstan. There is much to learn from Kazakhstan’s new vision and strategy.

Over the last three decades, Kazakhstan has evolved enormously from a soviet state to a modern and market-driven country in the comity of nations. Its foreign affairs and economic collaboration with many countries have matured since its independence.

The writer is a freelance journalist and broadcaster, and Director Devcom-Pakistan. He can be reached at devcom.pakistan@gmail.com and tweets @EmmayeSyed

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