(The London Post): His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan made his annual speech to the nation on 11th November 2014. His national address was part of an extended meeting of the Nur Otan party’s Political Council.
Recent international geopolitical tensions have had a strong negative impact on countries all over the world, many of which have not yet fully recovered from economic crises of 2008 and 2009. Kazakhstan, too, felt the effects of today’s geopolitical conflicts and sanctions, as a result of which world economic growth is under the threat of a halt.
The new Address was dedicated to Kazakhstan’s new economic policy Nurly Zhol (“The Path to the Future”), that was drawn up as a response to new challenges faced by the country. Nurly Zhol is a clear, comprehensive and thorough strategy of stable and effective development for Kazakhstan in the period of immense outside pressure. According to President Nazarbayev, modern turbulent conditions required a rapid reaction from the government and an urgent revision of country’s current economic and political strategies. As a result, the government came up with a revised and refreshed set of strategies that is Nurly Zhol.
The new programme is designed to not only help Kazakhstan stoically get trough the difficult period but to gain a foothold on the trajectory of the powerful progressive growth in order to achieve the goals of the “Kazakhstan 2050” strategy. All measures proposed by the President will take effect starting from 1st January 2015
In February 2014 Nazarbayev made decisions for budget distributions from the National Fund. Nurly Zhol takes these decisions into account and contains several adjustments: from initial 1 trillion tenge allocated in 2014, 500 billions will be used to accommodate for large-scale improvements of all aspects of Kazakhstan’s domestic policies from housing to transport to support for businesses and enterprises.
Nazarbayev pointed out that Kazakhstan’s ambitious goal to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050 is a realistic one and should not be affected by outside threats. First of all, Kazakhstan will do its best to minimise the impact of international geopolitical turmoil on the country’s well-being. To ensure a stable environment within the country, the government plans to continue to stimulate business activity and employment. Special support and attention will be given to small and medium-sized businesses, whose share in the country’s GDP is planned to reach 50% by 2050. As a part of this strategy, unprecedented conditions of business loans at only 6 per cent for 10 years were introduced. This strategy aims to facilitate the funding and development of small and medium enterprises.
Another important issue that Nursultan Nazarbayev has emphasized was the development of infrastructure around the country, proposing ample budget increases. The President called roads “the roots of life” and stressed the benefits an improved interregional infrastructure will bring. “Roads are indeed the essence of life, the source of a modern existence. All the regions of Kazakhstan need to be closely connected by railroads, highways, and air services”, said the President. New highways will ensure better communication and trade relations between regions and simplify commute. Planned essential roadwork will be carried out between 2015-2017 to improve and facilitate transport communication between large cities as well as rural areas. The construction of roads alone is estimated to create 200,000 jobs.
Increased urbanization across the country called for better housing solutions. To create a safe and productive environment and ensure social stability, Nazarbayev has ordered to increase funding for building rental properties by 180 billion tenge in 2015-2016. Most accommodations will be available for long-term rent with an eventual buyout possibility. The government aims to achieve “the provision of housing directly, without mediators, with low-interest loans, that will allow to reduce the cost of its acquisition”. No first instalment and low mortgage interest will make housing more affordable for various groups of the Kazakh population.
The new policy puts a lot of responsibility on the akims (mayors) of large cities. According to the President, their involvement is crucial for achieving the planned improvements. “Akims have sufficient power to bring to life all major goals in their territory. The regions have everything – programmes, resources, and finances. Everybody is responsible for its area of work. They just need to knuckle down and set to work.”
The President talked a great deal about Astana, the nation’s young and modern capital. In 2017 Astana will be hosting Kazakhstan’s first EXPO. In order to match the highest international standards of the exhibition, Astana’s transport infrastructure will improve significantly. “This year Astana airport will reach its maximum capacity – 3.5 million people. Therefore, to increase its potential, I order to allocate 29 billion tenge in 2015 to the construction of a new terminal and a reconstruction of existing runways. This will allow to increase the airport’s capacity to 7.1 million passengers per year by 2017”. An additional 40 billion tenge will be allocated in 2015 for construction of EXPO facilities.
Besides devising solutions to current socioeconomic vexed problems, Nurly Zhol touched upon some other important issues, namely, the issues of national spirit. Nazarbayev specifically emphasised the significance of unity and nationwide harmony in a healthy society. In his Address he said that he sees international turmoil as a “maturity test” for Kazakhstan, a test that can only be passed when everyone in the nation lives in respect, concord, and tolerance with each other.
“We must be united to pass this global maturity exam. We must strengthen trust among all the Kazakhs! Be tolerant to each other! These are keys to Kazakhstan’s future. We must safeguard our unity and interethnic consent; no outsider can come and do this for us. Our young generation is growing up in a new and independent country. They did not see interethnic wars or conflicts, the devastation of 90’s, so let’s continue to keep this tolerant and peaceful atmosphere in our country.”
Kazakhstan prides itself for equally respecting its past and striving for a successful future, a quality the President saluted at the end of his Address. “Adoration for our historical past: pride for today’s fortunes, and faith in our blossoming future – are all covered by the powerful concept of “Mangilik El” (The Eternal Fatherland). Love for the fatherland –is respect for the great legacy of our ancestors, keeping it as safe as the apple of your eye, making a contribution to its development, and passing it on to future generations. This is the ultimate goal of Kazakhstan.”