ASTANA, Nov. 26 – Prospects for Kazakhstan’s economy, the importance of facilitating an attractive business climate for foreign investors, the protection of Kazakhstan’s small and mid-sized businesses, challenges surrounding World Trade Organization (WTO) accession and Customs Union, membership which is increasing the competitiveness of Kazakhstan’s domestic businesses, and other key issues were discussed at the fifth annual Expert-200 themed Economic Forum “Who Drives Kazakhstan’s New Economy.” The forum has served as a bridge between the government and entrepreneurs. It took place at the Radisson Hotel on Nov. 22.
The importance of this event was amplified by the participation of high level officials, such as Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev, Expert Media Holding Director General Valery Fadeyev, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors (the Association of Legal Entities) of the Association of Taxpayers of Kazakhstan Zhannat Yertlessova and others.
Issekeshev started the forum with his opening speech and underlined the importance of developing and accommodating small and mid-sized businesses, as well as focusing on sectors such as tourism, infrastructure and attracting foreign investors to Kazakhstan.
Akhmetov announced that “economic growth in 2013 will total six percent, while inflation will also remain at six percent”. He continued by stating that “these conditions make it possible to supplement the budget and fund the development of state businesses.”
The prime minister also stressed that “rules of the game should be transparent, protected and understandable to foreign investors who are interested in doing business in Kazakhstan.”
He also stated that Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organisation is now “unstoppable.”
Akhmetov reminded that all state programmes are to be reviewed and the most inefficient programmes will be cut. Among the most efficient programmes were the Business Road Map 2020 and the Employment Road Map 2020, the prime minister said.
Akhmetov stressed the need for technology transfers, the creation of new industries and the development of transportation infrastructure in maintaining the competitiveness of Kazakhstan products in the Customs Union and Common Economic Space so close to WTO accession.
Banking sector related issues were also discussed, in particular those pertaining to loans and the current system.
“Currently, business needs two new innovations. Firstly, long-term loans must be made in tenge and issued at low, moderate rates,” Director of the Macroeconomic Research Centre Olzhas Kudaibergenov said.
“Secondly, it is necessary to deal with bad loans. We need to introduce new procedures, so that if the borrower cannot repay the loan for honest reasons, a mechanism will be in place that would allow the writing off of part of the loan so that the borrower can begin to repay it again.”
The business programme of events organised by the Expert-200 rating agency and Expert Kazakhstan magazine also included three roundtable discussions: Car manufacturing: how to grow a new cluster; Agriculture in Kazakhstan’s new economy; The new economy in the regions: the role of big businesses and investment.
The top rated companies in the newest Expert-200 rating were given awards as prescribed by annual tradition.