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President of Kazakhstan Outlines Comprehensive Economic Reforms in State-of-the-Nation Address

Astana, September 1, 2023 — Today, President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his state-of-the-nation address, entitled “Economic Course of a Just Kazakhstan,” detailing ambitious plans for economic reforms and a fresh economic trajectory for the nation.

President Tokayev outlined various facets of the national agenda, underscoring the key economic tasks facing the government. He said: “In such an important period, we have every opportunity for a powerful economic breakthrough. To do this, we must decisively move to a new economic model, which is led not by abstract achievements, but by a real improvement in the lives of citizens.”

The Kazakh leader acknowledged several significant achievements in the past few years, including the doubling of salaries for teachers since 2020, significant salary increases for doctors, and the implementation of initiatives like the “National Fund for Children,” and the construction of over 300 healthcare facilities in rural areas.

Turning his attention to current economic objectives, President Tokayev set forth a course based on principles of fairness, inclusiveness, and pragmatism. He said: “The most important task is the formation of a solid industrial framework of the country, ensuring economic self-sufficiency. The main emphasis should be placed on the accelerated development of the manufacturing sector.” Particular focus will be given to sectors like heavy engineering, uranium enrichment, and automotive components, he noted. Tokayev proposed that in order to support the manufacturing industry, foreign and domestic investors should be exempted from paying taxes and other mandatory payments for the first three years.

On fiscal matters, the President called for a coordination of financial and monetary policies, with the aim of achieving stable economic growth of 6-7 percent. He also emphasized the need to attract foreign banks to boost competition and solve the problem of insufficient corporate lending. “The principal task is to ensure the annual growth of lending to the real sector at the level of 20% or more,” he said.

Tokayev further accentuated the need to support small and medium enterprises and accelerate privatization.  He said: “The main goal is to radically increase the transparency and efficiency of asset management. I direct the Government to start privatizing all non-core assets and holding people’s IPOs of Samruk-Kazyna Fund companies from 2024.” Changes in legislation will be initiated to encourage consolidation among small businesses, and efforts will be intensified to demonopolize key markets.

In his address, the President also focused on Kazakhstan’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection. “In the long run, a global transition to clean energy is inevitable,” he emphasized. Tokayev highlighted plans to increase renewable energy capacity and develop hydrogen generation. Significantly, the President proposed to hold a national referendum on the construction of a nuclear power plant.

The Kazakh leader also indicated an ambitious vision for Kazakhstan to become an IT-focused country. He stated: “We are among the world leaders in the e-government and fintech development index.” He directed the government to increase the export of IT services to one billion dollars by 2026. This will be facilitated by partnerships with major foreign IT companies.

In the realm of transportation, President Tokayev outlined plans to establish Kazakhstan as a major transit hub in Eurasia, focusing on key routes like the Trans-Caspian and the international North-South Corridor. “It is necessary to build a new dry port at the Bakhty crossing, accelerate the construction of a container hub in Aktau, and expand port facilities on the Black Sea along the Middle Corridor,” the President pointed out. He stressed that Kazakhstan should eventually become a full-fledged transport and logistics power. The President also pointed out that the realization of the transport potential depends on Kazakhstan’s constructive and good-neighbourly relations with all neighbouring countries, including Russia, China, and our neighbours in Central and South Asia.

In the political sphere, Tokayev announced that Kazakhstan will organise elections of akims (mayors) of districts and cities of regional significance, after Kazakh citizens have elected akims of villages, towns and rural districts in the past two years.

The address also focused on developing the agricultural sector, gasification, addressing water security, among other areas.

Towards the end of his address, Tokayev noted that all citizens, particularly young people, should embody the best qualities, as these form the foundational values of society. He described this as “Adal Azamat” or Responsible Citizen, stating: “If everyone is patriotic, educated, hardworking, disciplined, responsible, fair, thrifty and sympathetic, then there will be no unattainable heights for us.” He emphasized that the ideas of Just Kazakhstan and “Adal Azamat” should always be considered as fundamental values that stand side by side.

The President ended the address by saying that the government will be held fully accountable for the implementation of this robust economic and social policy. “It should have all the levers of independent management of the economy without red tape and bureaucracy, and without coordination with the Presidential Administration,” he emphasized.

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