Business news in brief

A toll collection system will launch Jan. 26 on the Astana-Temirtau, Almaty-Kapshagai and Almaty-Khorgos roads, reports the KazAvtoZhol press service. Passenger car rates on the Astana-Temirtau road will be 200 tenge (US$0.53) for drivers who pay in advance and 400 tenge (US$1.06) for drivers paying in cash. Rates on the Almaty-Kapshagai road will be 100 tenge (US$0.26) for prepaying drivers and 200 tenge (US$0.53) for those paying in cash, and rates on the Almaty-Khorgos road will be 300 tenge (US$0.79) for prepaying drivers and 600 tenge (US$1.59) for those paying in cash.

Approximately 14,000 people in the country will receive microcredit loans this year, Kazakh Minister of Labour and Social Protection Madina Abylkassymova told a January government meeting. Microcredits are small loans extended to borrowers who lack collateral, steady employment or a verifiable credit history. In 2018, microcredit programme funding increased by 20 billion tenge (US$52.88 million), with a 6 billion tenge (US$15.86 million) increase in cities and a 14 billion tenge (US$37.01 million) increase in villages. Overall, microcredits of 62 billion tenge (US$163.92 million) were issued. Seventy percent of microcredits were allocated to startups, 7 percent to small and medium-sized agricultural cooperatives and 23 percent to business expansion. The minister noted that microcredits are in demand among youth. Last year, 2,048 young people were engaged in entrepreneurship, with 1,008 receiving microcredits for their startups.

The mobile application Uber KZ launched Jan. 22 in Astana, Almaty and Shymkent and can be downloaded on the App Store and Google Play. To celebrate the app launch, users will receive discounts on their first three trips from Jan. 22 to Feb. 10. For Astana and Almaty users, the app features uberSTART, a new rate replacing uberX that is on average 15 percent cheaper. Almaty users will have access to high-end rides with UberBLACK. Uber is a ride-hailing service based in California and operating in 785 metropolitan areas worldwide.

New requirements were set Jan. 1 for the production, storage, transportation, sale and disposal of bottled drinking water by Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) members, reports There are stricter rules for compliance with chemical, microbiological and radiation safety norms, including tighter control over the amount of hazardous substances in mineral water. Coca-Cola Brand Manager in Central Asia and the Caucasus Azura Kamil emphasised that the Coca-Cola Company has high quality standards for bottled drinking water. In Kazakhstan, water for Bonaqua products is extracted in the Almaty region and undergoes several filtration and purification stages before being saturated with salts and minerals, in compliance with state regulation and the company’s requirements.

This year, new cars from Germany, England and Japan will enter the Kazakh car market, reports Arriving in the first half of the year, the 2019 Lexus UX will cost drivers 14 million tenge (US$37,013.54). Prices for the 2019 BMW X7, echoing the X5 in its appearance and expected to arrive in the spring, will start at 32.71 million tenge (US$86,479.48). Prices for the 2019 BMW 3 Series and 2019 BMW 8 Series will start at 12.7 million tenge (US$33,576.56) and 37.75 million tenge (US$99,804.36), respectively, for local drivers. Early arrivals also include the 2019 Audi Q8 and the 2019 Volkswagen Touareg, for which prices have not been announced. Abroad, prices for Toyota’s fifth generation RAV4 and Mercedes’ second generation GLE start at $40,723 and $72,613, respectively. Their prices in Kazakhstan’s market remain to be announced.

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