President Tokayev’s Economic Blueprint for a just Kazakhstan

By Muhammad Asif Noor

In his recent state-of-the-nation address, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev unveiled an ambitious economic reform agenda titled “Economic Course of a Just Kazakhstan.” This comprehensive plan reflects Kazakhstan’s commitment to shaping a prosperous future for its citizens while bolstering the nation’s economic self-sufficiency.

One of the central themes of President Tokayev’s address was the urgent need to establish a robust industrial framework within Kazakhstan. This emphasis on industrialization as an economic driver is not new in Kazakhstan’s policy landscape. However, the President’s call for accelerated development in sectors such as heavy engineering, uranium enrichment, and automotive components indicates a heightened commitment to diversify the economy.

Moreover, the proposal to grant tax exemptions to both foreign and domestic investors for the first three years sends a clear signal that Kazakhstan aims to attract substantial investment into these vital sectors. This move aligns with the broader global trend of countries offering incentives to attract foreign direct investment, positioning Kazakhstan as a competitive destination for businesses looking to establish or expand their operations.

President Tokayev’s call for coordination between fiscal and monetary policies demonstrates a commitment to achieving stable economic growth. The targeted growth rate of 6-7 percent is ambitious but essential for Kazakhstan’s long-term development. Achieving such growth requires prudent management of fiscal and monetary tools to stimulate economic activity without risking inflation or financial instability.

The President’s emphasis on attracting foreign banks to boost competition and increase corporate lending is a significant step towards ensuring the availability of capital for businesses. Adequate access to credit is vital for entrepreneurship and business expansion, which, in turn, stimulates economic growth.

SMEs are the backbone of any economy, and President Tokayev’s commitment to supporting them is commendable. Initiatives to increase transparency in asset management and encourage consolidation among small businesses will help level the playing field and reduce market monopolies. The private sector’s growth and diversification are essential for a sustainable and vibrant economy.

The President’s emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection acknowledges the global shift towards clean energy sources. Kazakhstan’s plans to increase renewable energy capacity and develop hydrogen generation reflect a forward-thinking approach to energy policy. The proposal to hold a national referendum on the construction of a nuclear power plant indicates a commitment to responsible and transparent energy development. This step will ensure that the decision aligns with the preferences and concerns of the Kazakh population.

Kazakhstan’s aspiration to become an IT-focused country is in line with global trends. President Tokayev’s recognition that Kazakhstan ranks among the world leaders in e-government and fintech development underscores the nation’s potential in the digital realm. The goal of increasing IT services exports to one billion dollars by 2026 through partnerships with major foreign IT companies demonstrates a commitment to harnessing the economic potential of the tech sector. The President’s vision for Kazakhstan to become an IT-focused nation is in sync with the digital transformation era. The goal of increasing IT services exports through partnerships with major foreign IT companies showcases Kazakhstan’s potential in the tech sector.

The President’s vision to establish Kazakhstan as a major transit hub in Eurasia is pivotal for the nation’s economic growth. Investments in transportation infrastructure, such as dry ports and container hubs, are essential for facilitating trade and connectivity in the region. Moreover, maintaining positive diplomatic relations with neighboring countries, including Russia, China, and Central and South Asian nations, is crucial for realizing this vision. Kazakhstan’s strategic location makes it a linchpin in regional trade routes, and fostering these relationships can unlock significant economic opportunities.

The decision to organize elections for akims (mayors) of districts and cities at the regional level reflects a commitment to local governance and grassroots democracy. Empowering local leaders can lead to more efficient resource allocation and tailored development initiatives that address the specific needs of different regions within Kazakhstan.

President Tokayev’s address also covered various areas, from agriculture and gasification to water security, highlighting the government’s recognition that economic development must align with broader societal needs and challenges.

The call for citizens, particularly young people, to embody the values of “Adal Azamat” or Responsible Citizen underscores the importance of character and integrity in nation-building. These values are integral to fostering a just and fair society.  President Tokayev’s emphasis on holding the government accountable for implementing economic and social policies without bureaucratic hindrance underscores a commitment to efficient governance and policy execution.

President Tokayev’s state-of-the-nation address outlines a transformative economic reform roadmap for Kazakhstan. This roadmap prioritizes citizen well-being, economic diversification, sustainability, technological advancement, and efficient governance. Kazakhstan stands at a critical juncture, poised to position itself as a dynamic player on the global stage while enhancing the quality of life for its people. The successful implementation of these reforms will serve as a testament to Kazakhstan’s dedication to a prosperous and equitable future.

 

The writer is Director Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies and Centre for Central Asia and Eurasian Studies

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