Prime Minister Assesses Business Progress in Almaty

ASTANA – On March 14, Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov visited Almaty and met with local businessmen to review progress in implementing the 2020 Business Road Map and the 2020 Productivity, 2020 Exports and 2020 Agribusiness plans.

The prime minister visited the KazStroySteklo glass factory where he was briefed about the manufacture of energy-efficient glass. KazStroySteklo is modernizing its production and increasing the size of its plant.

Akhmetov also visited the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund (DEDF) where he was briefed on the fund’s activities. Later, he toured the fund’s Entrepreneurship Service Centre (ESC).

“The ESC’s results in Almaty and Shymkent have demonstrated the high demand of businesses for consultations on state support. This confirms the need to create similar centres in other regions. The Almaty ESC has already provided 15,000 free consultations,” Damu Chairwoman Lyazzat Ibragimova said.

The Entrepreneurs Service Centre was opened in October 2012. It provides a wide range of services for new businessmen including free information and consulting assisstance, training and advice on methodology, support for investment and business projects and offering efficiency evaluations.

The DEDF also offers a platform for direct dialogue between the government and business.

The prime minister also met with the heads of all national business associations and with more than 60 business leaders to discuss small and medium entrepreneurs’ (SME’s) issues.

Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov, the economics minister, the deputy minister of regional development, the heads of tax and customs committees and top managers of major banks also attended the March 14 meeting.

Akhmetov said private enterprise was crucial for Almaty’s social and economic future. Thanks to President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s support Almaty has become the financial and business centre of the country, he said.

Almaty Mayor Yessimov, Atameken Union and National Economic Chamber Chairman Ablay Myrzakhmetov, Kazakhstan Entrepreneurs’ Forum Chairman Raimbek Batalov and the heads of Almaty-based companies including Nobel AFF, the AZMK Group, Aksai and Central House Accounting (CHA) delivered progress reports and assessed the condition of small and medium-sized businesses in the city.

The discussion was a lively one. Many business leaders told the prime minister about the difficulties hindering the private sector in Kazakhstan’s largest city.

Akhmetov said that many legislative changes were being planned on licensing procedures, taxation and other areas.

Almaty Mayor Yessimov said the city government was planning its own new tax legislation. He said the city would introduce a new classification of businesses including the listing of micro businesses for companies employing not more than eight people. Small businesses would then be defined as those employing between nine and 100 people and medium-sized businesses as employing more than 100 people. “Accordingly, there is a need to simplify the tax system, especially for micro businesses,” he said.

Atameken Chairman Myrzakhmetov said the protection of property rights was a fundamental issue for small and medium-sized businesses. He said it was also vital to improve the existing licensing system and to simplify licensing procedures on land acts, subsoil protection measures and work in the construction sector.

Association of Furniture and Woodworking Industry President Mikhail Glukhov introduced a package of proposals to improve the tax regime for SMEs on the oversight of state bodies, on tariff policy and on the issuing of permits. He urged the need to reform vocational training.

CHA Director General Madi Nusupbaev urged the introduction of a system of accounting outsourcing and more legal reforms required by SMEs.

The prime minister said effective cooperation was growing between the government and the private sector. He said business was an ally and partner in modernising the country.

Akhmetov said Parliament had already passed a law to cut all types of licenses and permits by almost 30 percent. Online government services are being expanded and it will soon become possible to obtain the 80 most in-demand permits and licenses through the Internet. A draft law to eliminate many licensing procedures where there is no threat to security and human life will be submitted to Parliament by the end of this year.

The prime minister said Almaty served as an economic engine or locomotive to generate growth in all regions of the country. “Forty percent of Kazakhstan’s business is here (in Almaty)]. The opening of the industrial zone and the Park of Innovative Technologies are creating new opportunities in the city,” he said.

Akhmetov said there were more resources available for business and to improve the business climate.

He said the participation of businessmen in industrial and regional development programmes and to evaluate government legislation “would benefit both business and government.”

The prime minister said the government was working to improve the financial system, the customs administration and the competitiveness of the country’s businesses to function more effectively in the Customs Union and the World Trade Organization. The government was ready to consider any proposal from of the business community through the Atameken Union and the Forum of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, he said.

Since 2010, the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund has been the financial agent and the operator of the 2020 Business Road Map programme. It has approved 2,457 agreements on subsidies and 132 loan guarantees worth 590 billion tenge ($3.91 billion) and given state support to 152 businesses in Almaty. DEDF has approved business grants around the country worth 31.5 billion tenge ($210 million), including 1.95 billion tenge ($10 million) to companies in Almaty.

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