President Restructures, Reshuffles Kazakh Government

4ASTANA – Addressing an enlarged government session in the Akorda presidential residence on Aug. 6, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced a major government reshuffle and restructuring.

“The decision has been made on a new structure of government consisting of 12 ministries and about 30 committees, instead of 17 ministries, nine agencies and 54 committees. All nine agencies will enter the ministries in the form of committees,” Nazarbayev said.

“We need to create an effective system of public administration. We need a compact government. There shouldn’t be more officials than are required,” the President underscored.“Kazakhstan needs an efficient system of governance to enter the top 30 most developed countries,” he said.

Thus, the new National Economy Ministry will take over the duties of the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning, the Ministry of Regional Development, the State Statistics Agency, the Agency for Regulation of Natural Monopolies, the Agency for Protection of Competition and the Consumer Protection Agency.

“Upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, Yerbolat Dossayev [the former Minister of Economy and Budget Planning] shall be appointed the national economy minister,” Nazarbayev said.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection have merged into the Ministry of Health and Social Development. Tamara Duissenova, the former minister of labour and social protection, has been appointed the head of the new ministry.

In perhaps the largest merger ever, the new Ministry of Investment and Development will absorb the functions and powers of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Agency for Communication and Information and the National Space Agency (Kazcosmos). In addition, it will deal with issues of energy efficiency and geology. Asset Issekeshev, former minister of industry and new technologies, has been appointed to this office.

Nazarbayev also announced the re-establishment of a new Ministry of Energy, which will be headed by Vladimir Shkolnik, a two-time former energy minister. The new ministry will assume the functions and powers of the Ministry of Oil and Gas, the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources.

The new Ministry of Culture and Sports will absorb the functions and powers of the Ministry of Culture, the Agency for Religious Affairs and the Agency for Sports and Physical Activities. Arystanbek Mukhamediuly, the former minister of culture, shall be the head of the newly created body.

From now on, the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan will have only two deputies: First Deputy Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev and Deputy Prime Minister, dealing with human development, Gulshara Abdykalykova.

“The rest of the ministries shall remain, with certain changes in their powers. In particular, budget planning functions shall be transferred from the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning to the Ministry of Finance, while another area of budget planning issues will be handed over to the Finance Ministry,” Nazarbayev said.

Kazakhstan’s Financial Police has been dissolved and its functions transferred to the Agency of Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption Enforcement. The Emergency Situations Ministry has been abolished and its functions transferred to the Interior Ministry.

Key issues of social and economic development as well as new tasks and challenges for the upcoming period were also discussed during the meeting.

“The further economic policy of the government should be focused on the existing risks. Today, we have to develop new responses to a changing environment,” President Nazarbayev said. He noted that all the required conditions and decisions have been made for the fruitful work of public authorities in Kazakhstan.

The President stressed that the current situation in the world economy, in both its regional and global aspects, requires close attention

He called on the government to boost its activity to achieve the objectives set out in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.

“Today, the government and public authorities face a range of new tasks and challenges. The Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union shall come into force on Jan. 1, 2015. At the same time, Kazakhstan is in the final stages of negotiations to join the WTO [World Trade Organisation]. In December 2014, a country programme of cooperation with the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] will be adopted. Therefore, we need to continue promoting economic growth in the context of integration. We should actively work with our Russian and Belarusian partners and open our trade offices, where required,” Nazarbayev said.

He stressed that the diversification of the economy remains the priority of the government.

“The State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development (SPAIID) for 2015-2019 has been elaborated and approved. It identifies priority industries for the second five-year period. This year, it is important to ensure positive growth in the basic sectors of the economy, including oil and gas, metals and mining industries. We should launch large-scale field exploration and upgrade the existing facilities,” he said.

According to the President, the service sector remains the main source of economic growth and its share in the country’s gross domestic product has reached 53 percent.

In the meantime, a number of legislative changes have been made to improve Kazakhstan’s business environment, including measures to simplify procedures for allocating land and registering enterprises and the introduction of electronic customs declarations and automated licensing.

“The government has done much over the recent years. Now, we are expecting further positive changes in the business environment, as well as more efficient operation of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs,” the head of state said.

President Nazarbayev noted that the development of transport routes is high on the agenda for export diversification. The most urgent issues in the field are the completion of building works on the Khorgos Eastern Gate Special Economic Zone in Almaty Oblast and the creation of infrastructure in the seaports of Aktau and Kuryk. The President tasked the government with considering the possibility of building free warehouses in the Persian Gulf and the Pacific coast.

In his speech, Nazarbayev also touched upon the situation in Ukraine. “Kazakhstan empathises with the tragedy of ordinary people in Ukraine,” he said. “We call on all parties to the conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and find mutually acceptable solutions on the basis of trust and frank dialogue in order to stop the bloodshed, especially against women and children. I believe that there is no reasonable alternative. For my part, I am doing my best,” he said.

Adjourning the government session, Nazarbayev stressed that the main task of public authorities and public institutions is to support peace, harmony and security in the country.

“We raise our children in a spirit of tolerance and loyalty to their country. It is necessary to actively involve everyone, especially young people, in the work to achieve the goals set out in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy. Only a strong nation, rallied around the historic goal that we have set out in the strategy, can fulfil this mission,” he concluded.

 

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