ASTANA – Kazakhstan took 42nd place on the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC-based think tank. Quantitative and qualitative factors such as property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness, government spending, tax burden, fiscal health, business, labour, monetary, trade, investment and financial freedom of the nation were carefully analysed.
The report indicates Kazakhstan’s economy has substantially benefited from increased openness and flexibility during the past decade and emphasises the country continues to maintain its ownership in key enterprises, particularly in the energy sector. The economy is mostly in private hands and more privatisation is being sought.
Beneficial structural reforms have included bank privatisation, implementing competitive flat tax rates and modernising the trade regime, according to the report.
Foundation experts advise organising deeper institutional reforms contributing to investment and increasing judiciary efficiency.
The regulatory framework has undergone a series of reforms and the private sector now faces fewer constraints, although there is still much room for institutional reform. Labour regulations are relatively flexible, facilitating the development of a more dynamic labour market. Kazakhstan is subsidising renewable energy with the goal of having 10 percent of its needs met by renewables by 2030, according to the report.
Experts also consider trade to be important to Kazakhstan’s economy. The total value of exports and imports equals 53 percent of the GDP and the average applied tariff rate is 3.3 percent.
The Index of Economic Freedom, an annual guide, aims to help users track more than two decades of development in economic freedom and prosperity and promote the ideas in their homes, schools and communities. It covers 10 freedoms, from property rights to entrepreneurship, in 186 countries and the foundation website provides the opportunity to compare different nations.
The foundation considers economic freedom as the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labour and property, reporting that “in an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labour, capital and goods to move freely and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”
Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand took the first three places, respectively, and are considered to be nations with the highest economic freedom index. Kazakhstan belongs to the moderately free group of countries along with Japan (40th place), Poland (45th place), Belgium (49th place), Turkey (60th place) and Kuwait (61st place). It has significantly higher positions in comparison with countries such as Belarus (104th place), China (111st place), Russia (114th place) and Ukraine (166th place).
Experts highlight economic freedom provides more prosperity and its ideals are closely related to human development, healthier societies, cleaner environments, increasing per capita wealth, democracy and eliminating poverty.
The Heritage Foundation has provided the analysis in a clear and user-friendly style for more than 20 years. Offering new resources for users, the think tank gives opportunities for both research and education.