By Raza Syed
- Kazakhstan’s GDP reached 104 trillion tenge, and a record-breaking $28 billion in foreign direct investment were attracted
- 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, opportunity given to citizens to access part of their pension savings, enabling them to address their housing needs, the implementation of initiatives like the “National Fund for Children,” and the construction of over 300 healthcare facilities in rural areas
- The president also highlighted the tourism potential of the country and called for the execution of transformative projects there as well
The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, on September 1, delivered his state-of-the-nation address, entitled “Economic Course of a Just Kazakhstan,” detailing his plans for economic reforms and a fresh economic trajectory for the nation.
He outlined various facets of the national agenda, underscoring the key economic tasks facing the government.
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, opportunity given to citizens to access part of their pension savings, enabling them to address their housing needs, the implementation of initiatives like the “National Fund for Children,” and the construction of over 300 healthcare facilities in rural areas. Lastly, the state has reclaimed ownership of 8 million hectares of land that was either unused or illegally allocated.
Last year, the president stated, Kazakhstan’s GDP reached 104 trillion tenge, and a record-breaking $28 billion in foreign direct investment were attracted. Foreign trade turnover hit a record level of $136 billion, with exports accounting for $84 billion.External reserves—the bedrock of economic stability—approached the $100 billion mark.
Turning his attention to current economic objectives, President Tokayev outlined a course based on principles of fairness, inclusiveness, and pragmatism, focusing on bringing tangible improvement in citizens’ lives. He said: “The most important task is the formation of a solid industrial framework of the country, ensuring economic self-sufficiency.” Particular focus will be given to sectors like heavy engineering, uranium enrichment, and automotive components, he noted. Tokayev proposed that in order to bring rapid development in the manufacturing sector, foreign and domestic investors should be exempted from paying taxes and other mandatory payments for the first three years. The president also highlighted the tourism potential of the country and called for the execution of transformative projects there as well.
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.
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.” Changes in legislation will be initiated to encourage consolidation among small businesses, and efforts will be intensified to demonopolize key markets.
The Kazakh President, in his address, noted that many countries were now taking active steps to protect their domestic markets. He pointed out that in Kazakhstan, however, according to WTO classification, the level of protection for the domestic market is considered low, with only 128 non-tariff measures applied.
The state with the interests of national businesses in mind, he asserted, has a duty to protect domestic producers, which was not a signal to close country’s economy to the outside world.
In his address, the President also focused on Kazakhstan’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection, emphasising the development of a green economy. 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, Tokayev observed that Kazakhstan was at the crossroads of the global North and South, as well as the West and East. Therefore, the President 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 added that construction of Kazakh terminals in the Chinese city of Xi’an and the Georgian port of Poti has already begun which were tangible examples of how the Chinese “Belt and Road” megaproject can synergize with Kazakh national initiatives. 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. 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.