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September 21, 2019
EDITORIAL OPINION WORLD

State of the Nation Address by President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Constructive Public Dialogue As A Key To Growth

On September 2, 2019, the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev delivered his Address to the Nation at the joint session of both chambers of the Parliament outlining his vision for further development of Kazakhstan.

In his Address under the title “Constructive Public Dialogue – the Basis of Stability and Prosperity of Kazakhstan” the Head of State put forth a number of initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of public administration, ensuring the rights, freedoms and security of citizens, creating a developed and inclusive economy, modernizing social security of the population, as well as strengthening the regions.

 

Highlights from the Address:

 

The President said that public dialogue, openness, and prompt response to people’s needs are the main priorities in the activities of state bodies, and in this regard, a department has been created in the Presidential Administration that will monitor the quality of consideration of citizens’ appeals by state bodies and take prompt measures.

At the same time, K. Tokayev assured that starting from 2020, a gradual reduction in the number of civil servants will begin, with released funds being employed as material incentives for the most efficient workers. By 2024, the number of civil servants and employees of national companies will be reduced by 25 percent.

Besides, the police will drastically change its image becoming a provider of safety services to citizens. Over the next three years, 173 billion tenge ($445 million) will be allocated to reform the Ministry of Internal Affairs, increasing wages, providing accommodation and creating modern police officers. At the first stage of the reform, the Administrative Police Committee will be reorganized by the end of 2020.

Citizens will have greater rights to hold peaceful rallies in key locations. In addition, all contradictions and ambiguities of the legislation should be interpreted in courts in favour of citizens. Furthermore, urgent action will be taken to tighten the penalties for those who commit serious crimes, including sexual violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, domestic violence against women and grave crimes against individuals, especially children.

The President emphasized that effective small and medium-sized businesses are a solid foundation for the development of cities and villages. Small and, especially, micro-businesses play an important role in the socio-economic and political life of the country. He added that the development of mass entrepreneurship makes it possible to get rid of paternalistic attitudes and dependency rooted in the mind.

In this regard, the Government was also tasked to develop a legislative framework for exempting micro and small business companies from income tax for a period of three years. Corresponding amendments to the legislation should enter into force in 2020. From January 2020, the decision on a three-year ban on inspections of small companies will come into force.

The President also instructed the Government to allocate an additional 250 billion tenge for the next three years under the new “Business Road Map”.

“The economy of Kazakhstan is developing steadily, despite difficulties of a global nature. Since the beginning of the year, economic growth indicators have exceeded world average. If we succeed in carrying out required structural changes, by 2025 we will be able to ensure an annual GDP growth of 5% and more”, said the Head of State.

“The “knowledge economy”, increased labor productivity, the development of innovation, the introduction of artificial intelligence have become the main factors in global progress. Bearing this in mind, we must increase labor productivity by at least 1.7 times. The strategic objective is to strengthen the country’s reputation in Central Asia as a regional leader. This is the political course established by the Leader of Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev, said Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The Government was instructed, within the framework of the State Program for Industrial and Innovative Development, to develop a set of measures to support high-performance medium-sized businesses, including tax, financial, and administrative incentives.

The President emphasized that the Government should continue to assist the activities of the International Financial Center, which, in essence, has acquired constitutional status. The Astana International Financial Center may become a platform for the development of the latest digital technologies together with Nazarbayev University.

In addition, the Government will be tasked to adapt the national legislation to new technological phenomena: 5G, Smart Cities, big data, blockchain, digital assets, new digital financial instruments.

“We have significant potential for the production of organic and environmentally friendly products that are in demand not only in the country but also abroad. We must gradually increase the amount of irrigated land to 3 million hectares by 2030. This will ensure a 4.5-fold increase in agricultural output. We need to move away from the raw material orientation of our agricultural exports,” said the President, giving instructions to the relevant ministries.

The President set the Government the task to find solution of pressing infrastructure issues of the countryside such as transport, water supply, gasification, repair and construction of schools, hospitals and sport facilities in rural areas and to allocate 90 billion tenge in the next 3 years for implementation of the “Village – the cradle of the country” program.

Regional development budgets will exceed 800 billion tenge by 2022. In addition, a system for assessing the effectiveness of local authorities will be introduced. If more than 30% of residents believe that the mayor of a city or a village is ineffective, a special commission by the Presidential Administration can be created to study the problem.

In the social sphere, the President stressed the importance of switching to a career guidance policy based on timely identification of student abilities. These policies should form the basis of the national standard for secondary education. The scope of the program “Relocation of college degree holders to the rural areas” will be expanded. The Government is tasked with increasing the funding for this program to 20 billion tenge starting in 2020.

Mr. Tokayev especially emphasized the necessity to select talented rural youth and prepare it for training in domestic and foreign universities, instructing the Government to develop a roadmap of support for gifted children from low-income and large families.

In addition, the President announced impending adoption of the following measures:

– Doubling the teachers’ income over the next 4 years;

– Particular attention to national health care system, promotion of mass sport movement among all age groups and adoption of a relevant comprehensive plan.

– Ensure maximum accessibility of sports infrastructure for children.

– The state will maintain a guaranteed volume of free medical care. More than 2.8 trillion tenge will be allocated for its funding over the next 3 years.

– Raise the salaries of cultural workers employed in libraries, museums, theaters and other facilities.

– 2020 is declared the Year of the Volunteer in order to promote and expand the participation of citizens, especially young people and students, in volunteer activities, instilling them with socially active skills. This will be an important part of the ongoing work to strengthen civil society.

In conclusion, the President highlighted the harmonious existence of various social and ethnic groups as the foundation of the future society and its progress. In this regard, Kazakhstan’s authorities will continue to promote and foster languages and culture of all ethnic groups in the country.

 

 

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