In the first State of the Nation Address delivered in the Parliament on September 2, Kazakhstan’s President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev presented his vision for the further development of the country, defining his policies in all fields of the political, economic and social life. With a vast political experience, having served as Chairman of the Senate, Prime Minister and State Secretary of Kazakhstan, but also holding some important international posts, Mr. Tokayev, won the June 9 presidential poll with 70,96 % of the votes.
The Head of State used the opportunity offered by his first presence in Parliament three months since his election, to announce a plan to guide Kazakhstan through new stage of political evolution and presented 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.
A modern, effective state
The President said the formula for the stability of the state was “a strong President – an influential Parliament – an accountable Government”, adding that this was not yet a fait accompli, but a goal towards which the country should move at an accelerated pace.
“Political transformation will be gradually and steadily carried out, taking into account the interests of the state and the people. Successful economic reforms are no longer possible without the modernisation of social and political life,” Mr. Tokayev added.
Kazakhstan’s President also developed the concept of a state “capable of hearing” its citizens.
“Our common task is to implement the concept of a state capable of hearing, which quickly and efficiently responds to all constructive requests of citizens. Only through a constant dialogue of power and society can a harmonious state be built in the context of modern geopolitics”, Tokayev told Parliament.
“Only through continuous dialogue between the government and the society a harmonious state can be built. The (recently established) National Council of Public Trust (representing different views of the civil society) will work on a rotational basis,” the President added.
He said that relations between the legislative and executive powers should be mutually respectful and business-like, without unnecessary confrontation.
“As Head of State, I see my task as contributing to the development of a multi-party system, political competition and a pluralism of opinions across the country”.
“World experience shows that explosive, unsystematic political liberalization leads to the destabilization of the domestic political situation and even to the loss of statehood”, Tokayev said in his major speech held in a joint session of both chambers of Parliament.
“Therefore, we will carry out political reforms without “running ahead”, but consistently, persistently and thoughtfully. Our fundamental principle: successful economic reforms are no longer possible without the modernisation of the country’s socio-political life,” he added.
In Kazakhstan’s President vision, in order to increase the efficiency of the work of civil servants, it is necessary to bring qualified young people into their ranks.
“At the same time, by 2024, the number of civil servants and employees of national companies should be reduced by 25 percent,” he announced.
“The unity of the nation is in its diversity. We will continue to provide conditions for the development of languages and cultures of all ethnic groups in our country”.
Tokayev reminded that according to the constitution, Kazakh citizens have the right to freedom of expression.
The President also reiterated the need to strengthen the role of the Kazakh language as a state language.
“Role of the Kazakh language as the state language will be strengthened and the time will come when it will turn into a language of interethnic communication. For that, however, we all need to work together,” said the Kazakh Head of State.
Ensuring rights and security of citizens
President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev also stated before the joint Chambers of the Parliament that a key factor in enhancing the protection of citizens’ rights and their security is the substantial reform of the judicial and law enforcement systems.
“The principle of the presumption of innocence must be fully respected. Contradictions and ambiguities in the legislation should be interpreted in favour of the citizens,” he emphasized in his speech.
Developed, inclusive economy
“By 2025, annual sustainable growth of GDP (of Kazakhstan) can reach 5% or higher”, said the Kazakh leader.
“Raising our reputation in Central Asia as a leader in the region is a strategic task,” he mentioned, adding that his first task is to “relinquish the country’s identity as a raw material country and to diversify the economy”.
“It is necessary to drastically increase the effectiveness of state support for exporting companies, as well as seriously intensify efforts to attract foreign direct investment, without which the potential for further economic growth will be limited”.
The “knowledge economy”, increased labor productivity, the development of innovation and the introduction of artificial intelligence have become the main factors in global progress. Therefore, we need to increase real labour productivity by at least 1.7 times, Mr. Tokayev added.
“At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the fight against the shadow economy, intensify the fight against capital outflows and tax evasion”.
In Mr. Tokayev’s vision, particular attention should also be paid to the development of tourism, especially eco- and ethno-tourism, as an important area of the economy.
The 750th anniversary of the Golden Horde should be commemorated in a way that attracts the attention of tourists to our history, culture and nature.
For the development of tourism, it is important to ensure the construction of the necessary infrastructure, primarily roads, as well as the training of qualified specialists.
Kazakhstan has embarked on developing a digital economy
“Our task is to strengthen our leadership in the region in terms of the development of info-communication infrastructure.
The Government will have to adapt legislation to new technological innovations: 5G, Smart Cities, Big Data, Blockchain, digital assets, and new digital financial instruments,” said the Kazakh President.
“Kazakhstan should have a reputation as an open jurisdiction for technological partnership, the construction and placement of data centres, the development of data transit, and participation in the global digital services market.
The Government should continue to support the activities of the Astana International Financial Centre, which, in essence, has acquired constitutional status,” he added.
In addition, the President showed that is necessary to modernise the tax system with a focus on a more equitable distribution of the national income. It should encourage companies to invest in human capital, in raising labour productivity, technical re-equipment and exports,” he added.
In Mr. Tokayev’s view, the use of the National Fund should be allocated only for the implementation of programmes and projects enhancing competitiveness of the economy.
“We have significant potential for the production of organic and environmentally friendly products that are in demand not only in Kazakhstan, but also abroad.
We must gradually increase the amount of irrigated land to 3 million hectares by 2030. This will ensure growth in agricultural production by 4.5 times.
An urgent task is to attract foreign investors to the agricultural sector,” urged the Kazakh President.
The President also offered measures to improve the quality of education and healthcare, to develop social support system. Over the next four years, teachers’ salaries will double, and next year teachers’ salaries will increase by 25%. 58 billion tenge (135 million euro) will be allocated over the next three years to ensure that equal opportunities for people with special needs are created. The network of small and medium-sized rehabilitation centres for children will be expanded.
Improving local government
As a pilot project, a system for assessing the effectiveness of local authorities would be launched. For example, if, as a result of a survey or online voting, more than 30% of residents believe that the mayor of a city or a village is ineffective, this could be the basis for the creation of a special commission by the Presidential Administration to study the problem and make relevant recommendations.