Kazakhstan Announces Strategic Reforms In The Economy, Governance, And Human Rights6 min read
The Kazakh President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, set new pillars for the next phase, titled strategic and radical reforms in all areas of economic, legislative, judicial, and human rights life and the welfare of Kazakh citizens, stressing the need to make changes in public administration approaches, employee policy, decision-making system, and responsibility on its implementation, stressing the need for modernization and modern development of all areas of life in his country.
In his State of the Nation address, Tokayev said “We will definitely overcome the current difficulties. But we must not forget about the long-term development of our state in the new geopolitical realities.”
The president announced that two packages of operational anti-crisis measures have been adopted. More than 4.5 million Kazakhs, who temporarily lost their income, have received assistance in the amount of 42,500 tenge ($101). More than 450 billion tenges ($1.7 billion) has been allocated for these purposes.
He stressed that All obligations of the state in the social field and in terms of supporting the economy will be fulfilled. For these purposes, 1 trillion tenge ($2.3 billion) is allocated from the National Fund. The indexation of social payments will continue. By 2023, it is planned to allocate over 1 trillion ($2.3 billion) tenge for this.
As one of the main goals, government reform was on the top of Tokayev’s list of decisions and announcements, he decided to create an Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, which will report directly to the President.
“The reforms developed by the Agency must be specific, realistic, and, most importantly, mandatory for all government agencies.”, He said.
The Supreme Presidential Council for Reforms is being created, the decisions of which will become final. For greater objectivity in assessing the rapidly changing situation, the Committee on Statistics is being transferred to the Agency.
“As goal-setting, the result should hold primacy over the process.”, he added.
The Kazakh President announced that the nation will cut the civil service by 10% this year and by 15% next year, solve the problem of reducing officials by 25% in 2021. The saved funds will increase the salaries of the remaining employees.
In terms of economic developments, Tokayev said that “The long oil super cycle appears to be over. We should be prepared for a completely new world market environment.”
According to the Kazakh President, the new economic course in Kazakhstan will be based on seven basic principles: Equitable distribution of benefits and responsibilities, The leading role of private enterprise, Fair competition, and opening markets for a new generation of entrepreneurs, Increased productivity, and complexity and technological effectiveness of the economy, The development of human capital and investment in a new type of education, “Green” economy along with environmental protection, and Adoption of well-grounded decisions by the state.
“By the end of the year, a unified Law “On Industrial Policy” should be developed, which will define the basic principles, goals, and objectives of the manufacturing industry.” He said.
To fix the agreements between the state and investors, a new instrument will be introduced – a strategic investment agreement.
This initiative should be implemented by the end of the year by elaborating a draft law on economic recovery. The pool of projects that will be included in strategic agreements will be drawn up by the Government by April 2021.
Tokayev said “Regulated purchasing has a direct effect on industrial development. Their volume is about 15 trillion tenge ($35.7 billion), or a fifth of GDP. The task of the Government and governors is to maximise this potential.”
Speaking about the agricultural sector, Tokayev said that the sector is facing key problems like limited access to land, lack of available long-term financing and a shortage of professional personnel remain unresolved
Therefore, the President announced a package will be prepared to stimulate cooperation in rural areas within the framework of subsidies and tax remissions, under a new National Project for the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex over a five-year period.
This project’s tasks are achieving self-sufficiency in socially significant food products, stable increase in the income of rural residents, an increase in labour productivity by a factor 2.5, and doubling the export of agricultural products.
The Kazakh President insisted that the social wellbeing of citizens is the top priority for his government and linked it firstly with the housing issue.
By 2021, 700,000 Unified Accumulative Pension Fund contributors will be able to use part of their savings for the purchase of housing, medical treatment or for transferring it to the management of financial companies.
“I instruct the Government, together with the National Bank, to adopt all the necessary regulations and carry out preparatory work by the end of this year.” He said.
“This year the program “5-10-25” came into operation. 390 billion tenge ($928 million) was allocated. The implementation of this program must be constantly monitored by the Government.” He added, saying that Funds should be directed not only to construction but also to subsidizing rent. In the first year, the coverage of this measure will increase 10-fold, more than 100,000 families will receive specific assistance.
The family and the demographic situation are a matter of serious concern for the Kazakh government. It will launch a special “Angsagan Sabi (Longing for a Baby)” program starting in 2021. “We need to increase the number of quotas for IVF programs to 7,000, that is, seven-fold.”, Tokayev said.
The Kazakh President spoke about education and its’ importance to the development of the country, announcing reforms and new decisions like increasing the salaries of teachers by 25% as of January 2021, and it will be increased in the future,
“I have set the task of ensuring that by 2025 there will be 100% coverage of pre-school education and teaching for children under six years of age.” He added.
Tokayev showed appreciation in his address to all doctors and frontline workers in Kazakhstan for their work and dedication during the ongoing pandemic and instructed an allocation of 150 billion tenge ($357 million) for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year under the soon-to-be revised budget.
By the end of the year, 13 new hospitals focusing on infectious diseases will be built in various regions of the country. And by 2025, 20 modern multi-functional healthcare facilities will be commissioned. This means an inflow of about one and a half trillion tenge of investments in health care.
Speaking about the protection of rights and interests on citizens, Tokayev said that “No aspect of socio-economic development can be successfully implemented without the rule of law and guaranteeing the safety of our citizens.”
“The criminal sphere should be modernized, following the example of the developed OECD countries. We need a model that ensures timely protection of citizens’ rights and meets high international standards.” He added.
“I consider it necessary to introduce to Kazakhstan a three-tier model with a clear division of powers.” This model will make sure that the police must identify crimes and those involved, collect, and consolidate the evidence. The prosecutor is obliged to give an independent assessment of the evidence collected, stop any violations of the rights of citizens, prevent the involvement of conscientious citizens in the criminal process, and to support the prosecution in court. The court will consider complaints against the actions of the authorities and issue a final verdict on cases.
“From 2021, it should be legally imposed on the prosecutor in criminal cases to agree on key procedural decisions affecting human rights and freedoms.” Tokayev said.
Tokayev said that “The country faces great and complex tasks. Their successful solution requires extraordinary approaches, new thinking, universal solidarity, and mutual support.”
“Our strategic course is clear. We are well aware of our problems and shortcomings.”