ASTANA – On Sept. 24, 2012, President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree appointing Serik Akhmetov Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. His cabinet has now been working for slightly more than 100 days, the period traditionally taken as indicative of the initial performance and prospects of a government. Overall, Kazakh experts have positively assessed Akhmetov’s first significant period as prime minister and head of the cabinet.
Experts noted the mobility of the new head of the cabinet. So far, he has made five working trips within the country, traveling to South Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda, Mangistau, Atyrau and Kostanay regions, where he visited a number of important enterprises, as well as healthcare, education and cultural centres. During these trips he discussed a wide range of socio-economic issues, such as the implementation of projects like the Industrialization Map, Affordable Housing 2020, Business Road Map 2020, employment initiatives and other topics with local authorities.
During his trips, Akhmetov visited Kentau, Rudny and Zhanaozen, all considered single-industry towns. The government places great importance on the development of small industrial towns. Developed regions are the foundation of the economic and social modernization of Kazakhstan. In general, the cabinet plans to increase funding to address issues of regional socio-economic development, promote local initiatives and strengthen local economic potential.
One of the new directions in the government’s work toward establishing centres of economic growth is the development of urban agglomerations.
“Systematic work in this area will create long-term poles of growth,” said Akhmetov at the Nur Otan party meeting on October 5.
This year, a comprehensive plan for the development of 41 small towns is to be adopted. The programme on single-industry towns’ development for 2012-2020 aims to solve the urgent problems of those areas. It was designed to quadruple the number of small businesses, compared to 2011 numbers, and to launch about 50 anchor investment projects by 2015.
Investment projects in the regions are already paying off. On December 25 of last year, President Nazarbayev launched new industrial facilities in such towns as Kentau, Shar, Stepnogorsk and Temirtau.
“This is the first result of the initiative to adopt the programme for single industry towns’ development,” said Nazarbayev.
In general, for the three years of the Programme for Accelerated Industrial Innovative Development (PAIID), 537 new projects were commissioned, which manufactured products totaling 1.4 trillion tenge and created more than 110,000 jobs. The state allocated 2.1 trillion tenge for these purposes.
In 2012, 162 projects were launched, including 53 projects in the first half and 109 in the second half of the year. The PAIID effectively contributes to the economic development of Kazakhstan and increases the prospects of industries. For example, in transport and communications the key project is the construction of the Western-Europe-to-Western-China international transit corridor. Last year, the finished coating was laid on about 846 km of the road, which is already much more than was originally planned.
Among the tasks of the new government is the implementation of the three-year budget for 2013-2015, which according to the president’s instructions is intended to effectively implement all approved programmes. Overall, total expenditures in 2013 will be more than 6.2 trillion tenge; in 2014, 6.46 trillion tenge; and in 2015, 7.12 trillion tenge. This national budget is clearly socially directed. An impressive proportion (40 percent) of public funds in the next three years will be spent on increasing employment, improving living conditions, improving the quality of human capital, developing key regions, developing industry and innovation, providing affordable housing and supporting existing businesses.
The People’s IPO, the first IPO in Kazakhstan’s history, was also held during the first 100 days of the new government. Kazakhstan citizens were given an opportunity to invest in modern financial institutions. The first company to offer just under 10 percent of its stock was the national company KazTransOil.
“This decision was preceded by major organizational, technical and financial efforts to prepare. A big set of questions was resolved with the participation of foreign experts, consultants, banks and financial institutions,” said Akhmetov at a government meeting on October 30.
Another no-less-significant international event for the country was its selection to host EXPO 2017. In a secret ballot at the 152nd General Assembly of the International Exhibitions Bureau, the capital of Kazakhstan, outstripping the Belgian city Liege, won the majority of votes and was declared the venue for the next international exhibition.
“First, it is the recognition of our capital as a worthy centre to host an event of international note. Second, the choice in favour of Kazakhstan speaks to the world’s appreciation of our success and highlights the prospects for the country’s development. Third, the relevance of the topic we proposed, “Future Energy,” helped this victory a lot. Finally, most importantly, the choice of Astana was the fruit of the efforts of all our people,” said President Nazarbayev in his address.
“The task now is to hold EXPO 2017 at the highest standard. This is a challenge for the government and the country. Now, not much time is left to implement such a large project,” said Akhmetov. “And the government must take clear organizational and preparatory measures.”
Already, on January 15, an announcement was made that a new national company will be set up to prepare Astana for EXPO 2017.
As for the international agenda of his first hundred days, Akhmetov paid one official and three working visits to foreign countries including Germany, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The prime minister held bilateral meetings with four heads of state and five heads of government: Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the State Council of China Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Jantoro Satybaldiev and Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyayev.
One of the main areas of the new government’s upcoming work is the implementation of a wide range of the president’s instructions from his Kazakhstan-2050 strategy.