Weekly News Review
Embassy of Kazakhstan to Canada Weekly News Review
February 20-25, 2017
Issue No. 209
THE PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL ADDRESS TO THE NATION
- Kazakhstan's the 2017 New Direction: Taking Global Competitiveness Seriously
- Europe welcomes Kazakhstan redistribution of power
- Kazakhstan’s Senate Speaker Tokayev addresses Munich Conference, urges security cooperation
- Kazakhstan offers ‘Astana platform’ as venue to resolve conflicts beyond Syria
- Kazakhstan launches first ODA project in Afghanistan, with support from UNDP and Japan
- Expert consults citizens on IPO investments as privatisation advances
- National Bank to continue floating exchange rate, other inflation control measures in 2017
- New hydro power plant to appear in Kazakhstan
SPORTS, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY
- Kazakh athletes placed fourth following three days at Asian Winter Games in Japan
- Barys Astana to Play Traktor Chelyabinsk in First Round of Gagarin Cup
- Day of Gratitude – a celebration of Kazakhstan’s multiethnic society
THE PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL ADDRESS TO THE NATION
Kazakhstan's the 2017 New Direction: Taking Global Competitiveness Seriously
Ottawalife.com, 22 February 2017
The world community is celebrating the achievements of Kazakhstan regarding economic, political, and social development in its 25 years of independence, as well as its leadership in regards to international security. Kazakhstan is the first among the CIS and Central Asia countries to hold EXPO-2017, an important global event which brings business, policy and technology issues, putting moreover people at the heart of sustainable energy debate. At the same time, Kazakhstan has rapidly adapted to the new global reality, becoming a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since this 2017.
The 2017 new direction aims to help Kazakhstan to be part of the 30 developed countries in the world by 2050, which is very relevant taking into account the current global economic instability. Through its economic policies and its National Plan denominated 100 concrete steps, Kazakhstan is increasingly prepared to face the complex global transformation. All of this would not be possible without a correct domestic policy and without a high leadership in the international scenario.
Building on global competitiveness model, Kazakhstan’s third modernization is quite necessary to ensure the country’s place at the international realm. This last wave of modernization is the result of 25 years strengthening the country's economic potential since its first modernization. Needless to say that the first wave opened a space on the world map by creating a new state on the ruins of the Soviet Union and in the midst of a civil war which left more gains than losses.
The second wave of modernization started with the adoption of the Strategy-2030 and the foundation of its new capital Astana. Such a modernization was deeply important as it allowed Kazakhstan to be among the 50 most competitive economies in the world. The two modernizations already made, provide solid bases and invaluable experiences for the third wave of modernization, which goes further and is more ambitious in scope.
The third wave is based on its 100 concrete steps and was less thought to fight the current global problems and concerns than to respond to the future challenges and objectives, just as was expressed in the Strategy-2050. According to the speech given by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in January of this year, such a modernization has five main priorities.
The first priority, the accelerated technological modernization of the economy, seeks to promote new technology-oriented sectors, such as digital services in the healthcare and education systems, 3D-printing, online commerce, or mobile banking. Such objective is largely based on the assumption that innovation in products and services is a key condition for the formation of new companies. At the same time, according to such perspective the development of communications, digital industry or the universal access to a fiber-optic infrastructure, are critical to accelerate technological modernization of the economy in different sectors.
In fact, EXPO-2017 has become a platform for attracting entrepreneurs and new investors who, around the world, want to invest in Kazakhstan. This scenario represents an opportunity and, at the same time, a challenge for the country. After all, the government needs to think of an appropriate infrastructure, enabling environment, new and simpler requirements for visa processing, as well as more favorable labor conditions.
With the creation of new technologies in traditional industries and the creation and development of new industries, the labor market will be directly and positively affected. Through the program “Digital Kazakhstan” the government wants to develop modern tools to give traditional industries mechanisms to face national and international competitiveness.
As challenges could also be pointed out, it can be said that the development of the new Euroasian logistics infrastructure is an important priority, as well as the urbanization processes needed for the construction sector’s development. Actually, it could be the driver of the domestic economy and an important factor in attracting foreign investment. Furthermore, it is essential to increase productivity with elements of the fourth industrial revolution such as robotics, artificial intelligence or automation, not to mention that mining, metallurgical and oil sectors must maintain its strategic role in the Kazakhstan's economic growth.
The significant improvement and expansion of the business environment is the second priority to meet the objectives of the Strategy-2050, year in which the government is waiting that the contribution of small and medium-sized business is at least 50% of GDP. Considering this strategic goal, the government launched a program of productive employment, family business and development of mass entrepreneurship, with a budget of up of 16 million tenge in micro-loan for the business, as well as organizational and financial training.
Along with the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, the government are considering strategies to reduce all kind of costs for business, such as administrative procedures, documents services, energy logistics, or utilities. To do this, it is necessary to modify the existing regulatory burden on business insofar as it goes against of creating a new and modern model of business. In this regard, it is important to improve the conditions of doing business on the basis of the World Bank’s framework, and thus to develop a special system in order to deregulate business for the second half of this year.
Needless to say, transparency and efficiency of privatization, as well as the role of state holdings according to international standards should be largely guaranteed. The State, therefore, should keep natural monopolies and assure the direction of strategic projects. Likewise, the expansion of public-private partnership provides great potential for business, social, educational and cultural development.
The third priority, the macroeconomic stability, is aimed at promoting the participation of private capital in the national economic panorama and to restore the role of monetary policy. In such a scenario the National Bank has important tasks, mainly to reduce the inflation to 3-4%, to improve the banking sector, to guarantee the national economic growth, to expand the rights of the state banks in the operational control, and to ensure transparency in audits.
The stock market, which needs to create opportunities and options for people to invest their savings in different types of stocks is important as well. There is no other way to achieve this than by providing a safe and stable national outlook for investment. All of these factors would allow arguing that the fiscal policy needs to be readjusted and revised by every Ministry, and program by program, in order to ensure the proper distribution of the national budget.
The macroeconomic stability, as a priority of the Strategy-2050, needs to continue the fiscal decentralization policy. In particular, it is important to avoid the concentration of spending authority for the purpose of give regional and local powers a more room for manoeuvre. Other important points have to do with the control of the external and internal loans and the tax administration mechanisms, which need to be improved in order to expand the tax bases in the non-primary sector of the economy and to encourage business to invest and move the country's economy.
The forth priority, the improvement of the quality of human capital, seeks to change the role of the education system making it the central axis of Kazakhstan’s global competitiveness and new model of economic growth. Academic and business sectors and government must work together to prevent market failures. The goal is to create synergy between what the market is needing and the education that is being given to future entrepreneurs and employees.
On the way to meet such goals, Kazakhstan government recognizes that the gap in the quality of education between urban and rural schools must be reduced. In this sense, special attention should be paid in the trilingual education and in the quality of the professors, which is a typical problem. It is worth noting that the government is working on vocational education strategies in order to bring new specialist to labor market, along with higher educational facilities.
The healthcare and social security systems are two important assets. On the one hand, healthcare system must be provided with equal terms than those provided by private health institutions for the purpose of promoting competition on the equal basis for everyone. A new legislation to regulate prices of drugs would be quite required in such scenario. On the other hand, social security in terms of the basic pension will depend not only on the length of participation in the pension system, but also on the minimum wage, as well as on the social assistance.
The last, but not least important priority, as part of the third modernization is the institutional change, security and the fight against corruption. Kazakhstan not only needs to work on basis of OECD recommendations, but also reviews the legislation, humanize the administrative and criminal law, and works in the judicial system. In terms of corruption, the country is making efforts aimed at identifying and eliminating the causes and premises of corruption, as well as combating the effects of corruption.
Regarding security, Kazakhstan is working on the prevention of religious extremist propaganda, adopting a zero-tolerance policy and taking additional steps toward spiritual and moral education of the younger generation. At this point, the cybercrime and cyberterrorism is becoming one of the most important issues. For this reason, the government, along with the National Security Committee, are creating the Kazakhstan Cybershield system.
We must not forget that the President Nursultan Nazarbayev has proposed a constitutional reform orientated to strengthen and improve the current democratic system. The main objective of such reform is to create a redistribution of powers. Two options are available in this scenario. On the one hand, the new Parliamentary powers might negotiate the Government’s structure with the President. On the other hand, the Parliament could introduce the principle of the vote of no confidence to control the government decisions in a more strict way. In any case, Ministers would have more power and responsibilities to manage social and economic development, whereas state programs will be transferred to the Government. In addition, the role of the President will be of a supreme arbiter in relations between the different branches of Government.
As part of this reform, the Government and Parliament would provide effective mechanism of response to modern challenges, one of the most important: Kazakhstan's new direction 2017 aimed at helping Kazakhstan to be part of the 30 developed countries in the world by 2050, taking global competiveness seriously.
By: Maria Alejandra
Europe welcomes Kazakhstan redistribution of power
The chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation to Kazakhstan has welcomed a radical shakeup of how the country is run. Iveta Grigule MEP, a Latvian deputy, told EU Reporter that the recently announced sweeping changes should be “positively valued”, writes Colin Stevens.
The Alde deputy was responding to a recent nationally televised speech by the country’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev who said political system faces “enormous” challenges and would be changed to a more parliamentary form of governance.
This will involve a “massive” redistribution of power, declared the President of Kazakhstan. Many of the powers he currently enjoys will be handed over to parliament, and the government will emerge out of the party that wins a majority in the legislature. Under the new system, the president will serve as liaison between the various branches of power and will focus on foreign policy, defence and homeland security. He also will have veto power over all the government’s decisions.
The changes, said President Nazarbayev, mean that the role and influence of parliament and government will be “significantly expanded” by the transfer of functions.
Under the changes, the process for passing a parliamentary no confidence in the government will be simplified while “large areas” of economic and social policy, previously under the control of the president, will be devolved to government ministers.
The blueprint outlined by President Nazarbayev foresees the transfer of no less than 40 presidential functions. The changes, which are the result of a working group set up by the president last year, will require amendments to the current constitution. The plans have now gone to public consultation which lasts until February 26. The overall aim of the sweeping reforms, he said, is to improve the efficiency of the public administration system.
In his address the President of Kazakhstan also unveiled “five top priorities” for what he termed the “third phase” of the country’s modernisation plans. Future priorities, he noted, should include improving and expanding the business sphere, achieving macroeconomic stability, and increasing the fight against corruption.
He explained that the presidential system had long served the country well because it was “necessary” for one man to take the helm of the country after the fall of the Soviet Union, but that the system had outlived its usefulness.
The announcement comes with the country, which recently marked its 25th anniversary of independence, assuming a bigger role on the world stage. On January 1, it began its tenure on the UN Security Council and this year hosts EXPO 2017. President Nazarbayev has also been engaged in international diplomacy as a mediator, most notably between Russia and Turkey. These developments, along with the country’s status as the largest Central Asian state, demonstrate its growing international profile, he said.
Reaction to the reform plans has been swift, with Grigule saying: “Kazakhstan is an important EU partner, and not only from the perspective of the Central Asian region. In recent years, relations between both sides have improved, becoming more intense and pragmatic. This is also evident from the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed between the EU and Kazakhstan more than a year ago.
“This large Central Asian country is an important partner for us Europeans in various fields, starting with questions of security, and ending with the new road to economic cooperation, and overcoming challenges. For this cooperation to be successful and beneficial for both sides, it is very important that both partners rely on common understanding and similar principles.
“Therefore, from the perspective of further EU-Kazakhstan relations, Kazakhstan President’s Nursultan Nazarbayev’s recent programmatical announcements and reforms, are positively valued.
“Nazarbayev is a very experienced country leader and an outstanding strategist. He understands well that the ambitious goals which the country of Kazakhstan has set for itself until the years 2025 and 2050, can only be achieved through modernizing the country politically and technologically, as well as by providing greater support for entrepreneurship by decreasing the countries bureaucratic pressure on businesses; also, by ensuring health care, social care, and education for his people.
“Us Europeans should support the attempts of the country of Kazakhstan as much as possible through the already existing co-operation. It is within our common interests- a strong, safe, and economically developed Kazakhstan, which is not a threat to the EU but a trusted friend and co-operation partner. ”
Slovakian EPP Member of the European Parliament Eduard Kukan said: “I welcome President Nazarbayev’s announcement in January and the subsequent public debate regarding the transfer of functions to the Government or the Parliament from the President’s office. His commitment to democratic reform is well noted and welcomed.
“A functioning Parliament is the cornerstone to any modern democracy, as is legislature’s control over the executive branch. The proposed package of reforms heads in this direction. This will be a long-term process, but I am glad to hear that the initial steps have been taken. Additionally, an effective public administration is essential to good functioning of any country, and I am pleased that Kazakhstan will be launching reforms in this regard as well.
“Kazakhstan is the first of our Central Asian partners having concluded an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, and the EPCA is also one of the tools for supporting these reforms. I would also like to welcome the special and constructive regional role Kazakhstan has been playing in the Central Asian region. This is particularly important in light of its UN Security Council membership.”
Kamran Bokari, of Geopolitical Futures, a US-based global analysis company, said: “These changes constitute some measure of political reform. The Kazakhs will hope that the envisioned changes to the political system will allow the state to manage growing social pressures.”
A spokesman for the respected, Brussels-based European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS), said: “Being a key member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Kazakhstan has already been playing a major role in the economic stability of central Asian region. Now the recent administrative reforms would ensure the country’s global competitiveness.
“As the president rightly said, political modernization would in turn complement the strategic plan of Kazakhstan’s technological prowess, and would remain as the most fruitful way to achieve Kazakhstan 2050 strategy’s main goal of joining the group of 30 most-developed countries in the world.
“The proposed changes also reflect the aspirations of the new generation of Kazakh citizens. The president’s speech has rightly mentioned that the existing political system has been necessary to build a secure and stable Kazakhstan. That is the reason the president would still perform his role as an ‘arbiter’ concerned with the strategic functions of the foreign policy and the external relations with other key players in the region.
“However, as the country has been successful and stable in its internal social and economic matters, the proposed changes in these fields of governmentality would definitely match the diversified and widening aspirations of the new generation.”
The EIAS spokesman added: “The president has strategically chosen a unique path suitable for Kazakh realities of twenty-first century.”
Elsewhere, James Wilson, founding director of the International Foundation for Better Governance, said: “I welcome President Nazarbayev’s commitment to cutting red tape and reducing costs for business, and his open-ness to consider the options for greater privatisation of state owned businesses.
“Kazakhstan commands a unique strategic crossroads between China and the West and will benefit from the investment in infrastructure needed to implement China’s long term objective to develop the Belt and Roads Initiative, creating a ‘New Silk Road’. With the right business climate, Kazakhstan can be a catalyst for Chinese investment into Europe, and an important destination in its own right for European investment into Eurasia.
“To assist the future development and modernisation of Kazakhstan, it is important to strengthen the dialogue between Government and business, and to coordinate the advice from both national champions in Kazakhstan and foreign investors. There is definitely a role for business to strengthen the mechanisms for such a dialogue.
“The EU is Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner for the EU, and their economic and trade relations are governed by an enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement. It is important to continue to strengthen these economic links, both by enhancing the regulatory framework under which businesses operate, and by improving the investment environment for Kazakh companies in the EU, and EU companies operating in Kazakhstan.”
Kazakhstan’s Senate Speaker Tokayev addresses Munich Conference, urges security cooperation
Astana Times, 21 February 2017
Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told a panel discussion at the Feb. 18 Munich Security Conference that it is important to build reliable and friendly relations between the countries of Central Asia and Eurasia and the rest of the world.
According to a press release from the chamber, Tokayev highlighted during the session, titled The Fault Lines of Eurasia, that Kazakhstan has no territorial issues with any of its neighbours, as all the state borders were completely delimited, including the Kazakh-Russian border, which is the world’s longest continuous land border between two countries.
Tokayev also told the panel that the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative offers great opportunities for regional economic cooperation, including for the growth of transit potential and creating new industrial capacities in Eurasia.
The Senate chair also elaborated on the status of constitutional reforms put forward by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. “Kazakhstan is a reformist country. We strongly believe that we should not stop the transformation of our society either in economic areas or in the political domain. Structural reforms must go on in any circumstances so that Kazakhstan could advance towards the 30 most developed countries in the world”, Tokayev said.
The speaker informed about Kazakhstan’s priorities as a member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018. He said the country places an emphasis on cooperation with the UN as an indispensable, universal global organisation. Tokayev also singled out the problem of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials, in particular, the threat of their falling into the hands of terrorists.
The Fault Lines of Eurasia panel was moderated by Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the political consultancy Eurasia Group. Other panel participants included Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The panel was part of the annual conference, which this year attracted around 600 guests, including more than 30 heads of state and government, as well as members of parliaments, ministers, senior diplomats, generals and experts. The list of high-profile attendees also featured new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Among the focuses of the event were the future of transatlantic relations and NATO, the war in Syria and security in Asia-Pacific. Delegates at the conference discussed terrorism, information warfare, global epidemiological situation and climate change.
Kazakhstan offers ‘Astana platform’ as venue to resolve conflicts beyond Syria
Astana Times, 22 February 2017
Kazakhstan believes the Astana platform, which recently demonstrated its usefulness in talks on Syria, can be used more widely as a venue for efforts to help resolve other conflicts, one of Kazakhstan’s top diplomats said Feb. 21 at the UN Security Council.
Speaking at a UN Security Council ministerial open debate “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflicts in Europe,” Roman Vassilenko, Kazakhstan’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, said: “The position of my country regarding conflicts in Europe that, unfortunately, continue to take place without durable solutions, is well known. Kazakhstan maintains friendly relations with all the countries involved in those conflicts, without exception. With virtually all of them, we have both bilateral and multilateral formats of mutually beneficial cooperation within integration initiatives and regional organisations. That is why we believe the Astana platform can serve as a much-needed venue for restoring confidence and reconfirming commitment to basic principles of international law and respect for the national interests of the parties involved.”
The European security environment has changed dramatically in recent years, he said. The conflicts, threats and instability on the continent are impacted by contemporary security challenges, such as unconventional terrorism, irregular migration, organised crime, including arms and drugs trafficking as well as trafficking in persons. “Last but not least, there’s the expanding atmosphere of fear and distrust,” the diplomat added.
In his address to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in 2015, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, said: “Humanity needs to move from a focus on routine conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation to a new development strategy which would make such conflicts senseless.”
“To this end, Kazakhstan has consistently advanced an international agenda that seeks to help solve conflicts before they arise, and, if that is no longer possible, to mediate between conflicting parties with the aim of creating conditions for lasting peace,” Vassilenko explained, citing the results of several international meetings in Astana and Almaty on the Syrian conflict and Iran’s nuclear programme.
Kazakhstan’s approach based on seeking mutual understanding and restoring trust among nations, was, perhaps, most notable during its chairmanship in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, he said.
“At the Astana Summit of the OSCE in December 2010, all of its participating states recommitted themselves to ‘the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community stretching from Vancouver to Vladivostok, rooted in agreed principles, shared commitments and common goals.’ That commitment is as critical and relevant now as it was then,” the Kazakh deputy foreign minister stressed.
According to him, peaceful solution of conflicts in Europe requires practical action at several levels: between major powers, regionally and locally. It is also important that the Security Council as well as other partners redouble efforts to forge political agreements, taking advantage of even the narrowest openings to find opportunities for compromise, as a matter of priority.
“Bringing an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine should be our utmost common priority. Our President has consistently worked to help put an end to hostilities contributing to the eventual conclusion of the Minsk Agreements,” Vassilenko said, adding that Kazakhstan considers those agreements the only viable, existing mechanism for solution of the conflict in a peaceful way.
He also said Astana welcomes the most recent announcement on Feb. 18 of an agreement to implement the cease-fire in that three-year-old conflict which has seen one of its deadliest flare-ups in recent weeks.
“It is of special importance for our multi-ethnic country that Ukraine remains sovereign, stable and independent with diverse multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society, in which all human rights are upheld,” Vassilenko continued. “We believe full-fledged normalisation of the situation in that country can only be achieved with economic recovery. We, therefore, call for establishing confidence-building measures in the economic dimension.”
He also outlined Kazakhstan’s positions on the situation in Georgia and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, as well as on Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
According to Vassilenko, two documents from President Nazarbayev will guide Kazakhstan’s work at the UN Security Council over the next two years, the Policy Address from January 2017 and the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.”
In the policy address, the Kazakh leader said progress through preventive diplomacy, democratic processes, arms control, confidence and security-building measures, the promotion of human rights and security in the economic and environmental dimension lie at the heart of Kazakhstan’s vision for effective global security and safety. And the manifesto, which is an official document of the UN Security Council, sets out a step-by-step plan for ending conflicts and violence at regional and global levels.
“We fully support the agenda and priorities of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on prevention of conflicts, which is more effective than crisis management. My country stands united with the international community in efforts to strengthen the work of the United Nations and the Security Council. We support member states to constructively transform conflict into peace, advance security and development, protect human rights, and promote the rule of law,” Vassilenko stressed.
Kazakhstan launches first ODA project in Afghanistan, with support from UNDP and Japan
Astana Times, 23 February 2017
A Kazakh delegation presented the country’s first official development assistance (ODA) project to the Afghan government Feb.12-17 in Kabul.
The project seeks to strengthen the economic independence of Afghan women by providing education from Kazakhstan’s top educational institutions in public administration and health care, maternal and child health and other topics. The initiative is being funded by the UNDP and Japan.
Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan Wardak Spoghmai, who met with members of the Kazakh delegation, said a lack of experienced professionals contributes to Afghanistan’s development challenges and said the Afghan Ministry of Health supports Kazakhstan’s project.
The stabilisation and restoration of Afghanistan is one Kazakhstan’s priorities as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. In December 2014, Kazakhstan for the first time adopted the law “On official development assistance.”
Director of Foreign Economic Policy Department of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Olzhas Issabekov said “the efforts to develop human capital are the most justified ones. It stipulates the competence of decisions and reforms.” In his words, this project is a distinct addition to Kazakhstan’s initiative to train 1,000 Afghan students in the universities of Kazakhstan until 2020.
President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe agreed in 2015 that Japan would fund the project.
Members of the delegation to Kabul included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption. The delegation also included a representative of the United Nations Development Programme office (UNDP) in Kazakhstan.
While in Kabul, the delegation also met with Deputy Minister of Finance of Afghanistan Mohammad Mustafa Mastoor, Deputy Minister of Health Jan Naim Ahmad, as well as with the heads of the UNDP country offices and the United Nations Population Fund in Afghanistan (UNFPA).
Expert consults citizens on IPO investments as privatisation advances
Astana Times, 22 February 2017
Forex Club information and analysis centre head Nikolai Ivchenko has advised citizens to invest funds intelligently when purchasing national companies’ shares at initial public offerings (IPOs), specifically, not to spend all their money on one particular company no matter how stable they are.
“It is hard to talk about issuers; we need to analyse each company individually. Typically, an IPO is not a simple process. Commonly, after the start of an IPO a company’s shares fall in price; however, they start recovering later. Therefore, individuals are recommended not to invest all their money in one or two companies. One can invest 20 percent of the savings in an IPO. Of course, if one sees any segment in the stock market as one of the areas for investment, it is better to spend 10 percent of the savings for an IPO and divide five percent of the investment on each company. The rest of the money can be invested in a long-trading company by buying an index or a basket consisting of 15-20 companies which are included in the index. It is always easier to deal with a reliable asset that has long been trading in the market,” he said, according to inform.kz.
Ivchenko reiterated any IPO carries risks of a sharp rise or decline.
“In general, I can say that the Kazakhstan Stock Market (KASE) will witness positive dynamics in the next two years,” he added.
In a recent address to the nation, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev outlined aspects of further stock market development. He noted the necessity of expanding opportunities for people to invest their savings primarily in various types of stocks. The President instructed the government together with the National Bank to take adequate measures aimed at enhancing the domestic stock market.
The Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund intends to transfer 23 assets to the competitive environment through IPO this year, said Samruk Kazyna head Umirzak Shukeyev.
“According to our plan for this year, 23 facilities out of 45 in the first list will be sold until the end of 2017,” he added.
From this list, 12 assets will be prepared for IPO in the first half of the year. The world’s largest companies will be invited to participate in the privatisation plan.
“We plan to prepare Air Astana and Kazatomprom for IPO this year,” said Shukeyev.
Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev recently instructed the Ministry of Finance to accelerate and complete privatising enterprises.
“The government is supposed to complete the corresponding work before the end of 2018. The Ministry of National Economy is required to submit the government’s draft decision on the approval of a specific list of projects subject to privatisation until 2018,” he added.
National Bank to continue floating exchange rate, other inflation control measures in 2017
Astana Times, 20 February 2017
In 2017, the National Bank of Kazakhstan will continue its policy of a free floating exchange rate, its strengthening of the base rate on the real sector of economy and will retain principles of inflation targeting, Daniyar Akishev, chair of Kazakhstan’s National Bank, announced recently.
“Last year was a difficult one. It was the first year after high turbulence across the financial landscape. Therefore, the bank had a number of difficult tasks which needed resolving in a short period of time. First of all, reducing inflation. In our view, it is not simply a tribute to theory that a low inflation is an important macro economic index. It is indeed the main figure of social well-being of citizens that lies on the base of efficient activity of the National Bank and its monetary policy,” Akishev noted.
Stabilisation of inflation expectations is another important aspect, according to him. Polls conducted by specialised companies demonstrate a significant reduction of a share for those who expect high growth of prices. The chairman assured that the impact of transferring a change in the currency exchange rate into domestic prices has been overcome.
“Now we will have to work further within standard instruments of monetary policy,” the head of the bank said.
The third important aspect is the real impact of the base rate on the currency market. All rates in the currency market depend on the National Bank’s base rate.
“Liquidity granting or withdrawal by the National Bank automatically takes place in any amounts a financial market participant can be eligible for. This means that with the National ’Bank’s involvement in the market, price for tenge forms, which then transforms into the cost of credit resources for a real sector of the economy,” Akishev continued.
“Basic areas of monetary policy for year 2017,” published in December of 2016, contain the basic priorities of the National Bank.
According to the head of the bank, maintaining the regime of a free floating exchange rate is the first priority while following principles of inflation targeting and keeping inflation at 6-8 percent corridor is the next priority.
Increasing the impact of the base rate via the credit channel on the real sector of economy is the bank’s third priority.
Akishev stressed that the National Bank will continue operations on the currency market and most of the tasks will be fulfilled in case of favourable situations on external markets.
“The main focus will be on continuing information campaigns on openness, awareness-raising activities on all areas and comprehensive expanding published information and statistics. Various forms of information delivery depending on the audience, both for wide public and experts, investment banks and analysts will be elaborated,” he said.
New hydro power plant to appear in Kazakhstan
New hydro power plant with a capacity of 24.9 MW will be built on Turgusun river in the East Kazakhstan region, the Kazakh Development Bank reported.
Turgusun HPP-1 will produce up to 79.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
The Turgusun hydro power plant in Zyryanovsk district of East Kazakhstan region will produce 23 percent of the electricity demanded by the district and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 680 tons per year.
The project will cost 11.6 billion tenge (312.6 tenges $1), 5 billion tenge of this sum will be provided by the Development Bank of Kazakhstan.
The project is financed within the State Program on industrial-innovative development in 2015-2019. The loan term is 12 years.
To date, all the infrastructure required for the hydro power plant has been built - roads, power lines, bridges. Construction of the hydro power plant will start in 2017 and expected to be completed by 2018.
China International Water and Electric Corporation is a general contractor of the project. It also supplies equipment for the plant.
The demand for electricity in East Kazakhstan region is increasing. In 2015 electricity shortage in the region hit 2.2 billion kilowatt hours. It was covered by supplies from other regions of Kazakhstan and import from Russia.
Development Bank of Kazakhstan is state owned bank which promotes sustainable development of Kazakhstan’s national economy through investments to non-energy sector of the country.
SPORTS, CULTURE, AND SOCIETY
Kazakh athletes placed fourth following three days at Asian Winter Games in Japan
Astana Times, 21 February 2017
The VIII Asian Winter Games are taking place in Sapporo, Japan between Feb. 19 and 26. This Asiad, as the games are also known, is the first since the 2011 Games held in Almaty and Astana, where Team Kazakhstan won a record number of medals, beating the traditional leaders of the Asian winter sports – Japan, China, and South Korea.
Kazakh athletes, among others, took part in the opening ceremony of the games on Feb. 19. Five-time national champion in cross-country skiing Yerdos Akhmadiyev carried the Kazakhstan’s banner at the opening Parade of Nations.
One-hundred-sixteen athletes are taking part in the Asiad. Team Kazakhstan will compete in numerous events. Kazakhstan’s most decorated athletes in Sapporo include Denis Ten (figure skating), Dmitry Reiherd, Julia Galysheva (freestyle) and Galina Vishnevskaya (biathlon).
“The Asian Games are one of the season’s key competitions for our country. Following the Winter Universiade in Almaty where our athletes showed excellent results, we understand that some of the athletes might be tired. Our delegation stays positive, and we hope for many great wins at the Asian Games,” said Chairperson of the Sports and Physical Education Committee at the Ministry of Sports and Culture of Kazakhstan Elsiyar Kanagatov.
On Feb. 20, the second day when medals were contested, Kazakh cross-country skier Yelena Kolomnina claimed silver in the 1.4 km individual sprint classical race. Speed skaters and short track skaters were close to climbing the podium but ultimately failed to do so. Also, the women’s ice hockey national team and men’s curling teams have started their performances in Sapporo.
The following day, the team won its first gold. Cross-country skier Rinat Mukhin triumphed in the men’s 15-kilometers race in free style. His teammate Kolomnina climbed the podium of the women’s 10-kilometers race, in free style too. Speed skater Denis Kuzin won silver in the men’s 1,000-meters race.
Following day three, Kazakhstan is ranked fourth in the informal medal ranking, following Japan (eight gold, eight silver, and seven bronze medals), South Korea (six gold, seven silver, and seven bronze medals) and China (five gold, three silver, and five bronze medals).
Team Kazakhstan’s premiere at a Winter Asiad took place in 1996 in Harbin. Over the period of the nation’s independence, Kazakh athletes have won 69 gold, 51 silver and 44 bronze medals, which is 164 in total. At the VII Winter Asian Games in 2011 in Astana and Almaty, team Kazakhstan took first place in the team standings, winning 32 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze medals.
Barys Astana to Play Traktor Chelyabinsk in First Round of Gagarin Cup
Astana Times, 22 February 2017
HC Barys finished fifth in the regular season of the Eastern Conference of the Continental Hockey League (KHL) and progressed to the Gagarin Cup playoffs for the eighth time. The previous season was the only season the Kazakh club failed to make the playoffs.
Barys won 90 points and will now meet HC Traktor Chelyabinsk in the first round. Pundits estimate that the ties between Barys and Traktor will be among the most unpredictable in the playoffs.
The teams have faced each other 25 times within the KHL. Traktor won 13 of those and Barys won 12. Curiously, the teams play better as visitors rather hosts with Traktor winning seven out of 12 and Barys claiming seven out of 13 away matches against each other. Last season, the regular championship confirmed the trend as each team won its away tie with a score of 4:3.
Astana and Chelyabinsk already played each other in playoffs once in the 2012/2013 season. Barys first led the series 2:0 after the initial away ties (4:3 OT, 5:3) but then lost three times in a row (1:3, 2:3, 3:6). In the third home match, HC Barys found the strength to tie the series with a 4:2 victory. Nevertheless, the Astana club lost the decider in Chelyabinsk. Following the hard-won victory, Traktor passed two more rounds and reached the Gagarin Cup finals where it was stopped by HC Dynamo Moscow.
The two inaugural matches of the series will be contested in Chelyabinsk on Feb. 22 and 24 while the return games in Astana are scheduled for Feb. 26 and 28.
Day of Gratitude – a celebration of Kazakhstan’s multiethnic society
Astana Times, 22 February 2017
The Day of Gratitude was celebrated for the first time last year. President Nursultan Nazarbayev established the holiday for people of different ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan to rejoice and celebrate their co-existence as one whole nation.
“Some 800,000 Germans, 102,000 Polish, 550,000 of ethnics groups from the Caucasus and about 100,000 Korean families from the Far East arrived in the Kazakh steppes,” said Nazarbayev during the 22nd session of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan (APK) in April 2016.
“They were unloaded from cattle wagons, where livestock had been transported, in the open steppe and villages with nothing but small bags and sacks in their hands. Only Kazakhs were living in the steppes back then and only they could accept these newly-arrived people. Kazakh families, themselves living in dire conditions after the [second world] war, accepted these people in their adobe-built houses. I am not telling this because I learned it from some history book; our family, living in a small two-bedroom adobe-built house of 10 square metres each, sheltered a family with three children.”
The Day of Gratitude is celebrated March 1 – the day APK was established in 1995. Konstantin Kim, Korean Ethno-Cultural Association (ECA) Press Secretary and Chief Editor of “Koryo Ilbo,” a newspaper about the local Korean community in Kazakhstan, talked about the significance in an exclusive interview with The Astana Times.
“However, as for the Korean ECA, back in 2012 upon the Korean ECA’s initiative in the town of Ushtobe [in the Almaty region], we erected a memorial as a gesture of appreciation and gratitude on behalf of all the deported nations,” he Kim.
“The President said we must thank one another – our colleagues and neighbours – and appreciate being able to live in the multi-ethnic, bonded environment. But as for us, the deported nations, we must thank Kazakhs for accepting our ancestors on their land, for sharing their houses and for helping us survive in the harsh times. Today, all the conditions for all the nations living in Kazakhstan have been created for them to thrive and live in. Mind you, out of 130 ethnic groups more than 60 were deported; this gratitude is the gesture of thanks to the Kazakh nation as a whole,” he added
The ECA holds events at the Ushtobe memorial every year.
“We often talk to the youth – arrange meetings between the younger and older generations. The veterans speak about what this hospitality meant for them; they explain to the younger generations why this day is so important today, what the Kazakhs have done to help people survive, how we, together, have been building the independent state and that this is our shared history, so the youth would feel the importance of this history and would contribute to the development of the future Kazakhstan,” said Kim.
A similar memorial was built in Uralsk in 2012, he noted.
“It was also erected at the initiative of the Korean ECA. The Korean association has felt this duty before as well and to demonstrate this gratitude erected these memorials for the next generations to remember our history,” he said.
“Certainly, there is no way we could pay Kazakhs back what they have done for all nations that have been forced to relocate; there isn’t enough money or treasures in the world. Nonetheless, we must remember this token of life and praise it; to stay united, to preserve peace, as that’s what is making us continue thriving in our country. It is a good thing we now have this holiday. It is a symbol of friendship and it’s a true national holiday,” he added.