Kazakhstan highlights achievements and increased collaboration with the EU
Monday, 29 October 2018
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, delivers his annual state of the nation address
Kazakhstan is moving towards the status of a welfare state, developing into the “Nordic model.” The country’s social and economic progress was emphasised by Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, earlier this month during his annual state of the nation address. It highlighted growing income and GDP per capita, increases in standards of living and business development.
“Having created a modern progressive state with a dynamic economy, we have ensured peace and public harmony. We have made qualitative and historically significant structural, constitutional and political reforms,” said Nazarbayev.
Over the past 20 years, the country has raised $300 billion of direct foreign investment. Kazakhstan now ranks 36th among 190 countries in the World Bank Doing Business index. “Our strategic goal is to join the club of 30 developed countries of the world by 2050,” emphasized Nazarbayev in his two-hour speech in Astana.
In the overall Prosperity Index compiled this year by the Legatum Institute, Kazakhstan has climbed 11 positions from 83 to 72 compared to last year. Since the first Prosperity Index in 2006, Kazakhstan has moved up the rankings by 20 places and now currently ranks the highest among all the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The country is systematically moving towards the creation of a welfare state, aimed primarily at ensuring the well-being of its citizens. One of these steps will be to significantly increase expenditures on education, science and healthcare from all sources up to 10% of GDP within 5 years.
A healthy lifestyle in Kazakhstan has been elevated to a core national strategy and ideology. The country plans to start a largescale construction of sports and recreation complexes, carry out a complete modernization of hospitals and healthcare centres and unprecedentedly increase control over the quality of water and food.
“The quality of medical services is a key component of social well-being of the population,” said the President. “The health of the nation is the main priority of the state. This means that Kazakh citizens should consume good-quality products,” he added.
Kazakhstan has also changed its approach to education. The system of knowledge evaluation is based on international standards. The emphasis is shifting towards the 4C model: creativity, critical thinking, communication skills and co-working.
Qualitative and affordable housing, preferential mortgages, a comfortable urban environment and transformation of law-enforcement agencies – all these aspects are aimed to become part of the new socio-economic picture of Kazakhstan in the coming years.
The country has also taken steps to enhance its support for business development. Conditions for starting a business in Kazakhstan are among one of the most attractive in the world. “To give businesses an opportunity for a fresh start, I instruct the launch of tax amnesty for SMEs starting from 1 January 2019, by cancelling fines and penalties provided the principal tax amount is paid,” said Nazarbayev.
Export-oriented industrialisation will also be a central element of Kazakhstan’s economic policy. The authorities will focus on supporting exporters in the manufacturing sector. The government intends to allocate an additional $1.4 billion to support the manufacturing industry and non-commodity export in the next three years as well as $1.64 billion to address the issue of affordable loans for priority projects.
The International Monetary Fund has taken note of Kazakhstan’s efforts and has revised its 2018 growth projection for the country by half a per cent to 3.7% in its October 2018 edition of the World Economic Outlook, reflecting increased oil production and higher non-oil growth.
Kazakhstan, the 9th largest country in the world, relies heavily on agriculture. In the next three years, Astana will spend an additional $820 million on the development of rural areas. “The main objective is to increase labour productivity and export of processed agricultural products by 250% by 2022. All state support measures should be focused on the large-scale attraction of modern agricultural technology to the country,” noted Nazarbayev.
In addition, a direct investment fund in the non-resource sector will be created in Kazakhstan, which will carry out its activities on the principle of co-investment with foreign partners. In his speech, Nursultan Nazarbayev also discussed the modernisation of Kazakhstan with further implementation of a proactive foreign policy which also helps the welfare of the citizens of Kazakhstan. Strong relations with the EU is a key element of the Kazakh welfare strategy. “We will continue our dynamic collaboration with the EU as our biggest trade and investment partner,” Nazarbayev emphasized.
The European Union and Kazakhstan signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in Astana on 21 December 2015. This new agreement, which constitutes the first of its kind, signed by the EU with one of its Central Asian partners, elevates relations between Brussels and Astana to a new level. “Kazakhstan still has a lot of heights to climb. People’s trust raises our spirits and gives us strength on this path. There is nothing greater than this noble goal”, Nursultan Nazarbayev concluded.