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Kazakh President announces initiatives to address crisis and lift economy

Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed a special session of the Majilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan’s Parliament) on January 11, 2022, when he spoke about the unprecedented outbreak of violence across the country the previous week.

He said that the perpetrators of the violence took advantage of the genuine discontent of the people related to an increase in price of liquefied gas.

Initially, peaceful rallies were held in a number of regions. The protests were then hijacked by bandits, looters and armed terrorists, including foreign militants.

Their key goal, according to him, was to seize power.

The President added that Kazakhstan was forced to call for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which deployed a multinational peacekeeping contingent to restore order, which was completed by January 11.

The contingent will withdraw by January 21 after finishing its work.

During the session, President Tokayev nominated Alikhan Smailov, the former finance minister and deputy prime minister, as the new Prime Minister of Kazakhstan.

The Majilis voted in favour of Smailov, who has been given three weeks to present the government’s action plan for 2022.

President Tokayev also announced a number of initiatives to address the current crisis and support the well-being of the people and lift the economy.

Overcoming the crisis

* Almaty and other regions that suffered damage will be rebuilt as soon as possible. Normal operation of the financial system, transport sector and food supply chains will be restored shortly.

* Kazakhstan is currently stable. But it is crucial to successfully complete the ongoing counter-terrorist operation, fully restore law and order in the country.

* A special investigation task force will bring to justice all the militants and their accomplices involved in crimes and reveal the cause and details of the violence.

* The government will provide financial assistance and support to businesses which suffered.

Supporting the public, domestic and foreign investors

* The government will take measures to restore the confidence of domestic and foreign investors and trade partners in the Kazakh economy. Kazakhstan’s obligations and guarantees to investors will be fulfilled. A new Investment Policy will be developed to increase Kazakhstan’s investment attractiveness.

* Special efforts will be made to address the issues of economic inequality. The government will ensure that incomes of all groups will grow at pace with the national economy.

* Within two months, the government and the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs will develop a programmr to increase the income of the general public and will prepare concrete proposals to reduce poverty.

*  The government will swiftly develop a new Social Code, taking into account the new realities and challenges including the Covid pandemic.

* A systematic effort will be made to reduce inflation and ensure stability of the national currency.

* A special fund “For the People of Kazakhstan” will be established with funding from private and public sources.

Pressing ahead with the reform agenda

* The goal of the government’s economic policy is to develop a full-fledged market economy with a proper social orientation. Diversification of the economy through the development of the manufacturing industry and the support of a fair economic competition are the foundations of this policy.

* The government will announce measures to rid the civil service of corruption, formalism and red tape. The President announced that he will issue a separate decree on the “de-bureaucratization” of the government apparatus.

* Kazakhstan will press ahead with the President’s policy of swift political modernisation. President Tokayev has already implemented four packages of political reforms. The fifth major package of political reforms will be unveiled in September, during the President’s state-of-the-nation address.

* The programme of continued political and economic transformation will proceed further. The government will work with experts and civil society to prepare a package of proposals, which will be considered at a meeting of the National Council of Public Trust.

* Five-year moratorium on salary increases for top government officials and regional mayors. The salaries of lower level public sector employees will continue to grow.

* Disproportionate economic development of various regions will be addressed. The government will prepare a set of measures to lift the regions that are “lagging behind”.

* Educational grants for young people who live in densely populated provinces. The President instructed the government to open branches of at least five major foreign universities by 2025 and develop a programme to attract the best teachers to provinces.

* The Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund as well as the Development Bank of Kazakhstan will be subjected to detailed review and audit to ensure that their policies benefit the people.

* Full review and audit will be conducted to combat corruption, ensure transparency and efficiency of customs and border control procedures at some of the key facilities on Kazakhstan’s borders.

* In order to strengthen national security and efficiently counter all types of threats, the entire national security system will be reorganised, including Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies, national security agencies and intelligence service. The borders will be strengthened and circulation of firearms in the country will be strictly monitored. The entire national security apparatus will be revamped to ensure the protection of citizens, constitutional system and national sovereignty against threats of any nature and scale.

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