ASTANA – The Kazakh 7-20-25 affordable housing programme has approved 4,350 applications for 52 billion tenge (US137.2 million) since its launch in July, said Kazakh National Bank Chairman Daniyar Akishev at the Jan. 22 government meeting.
The programme is among the Five Social Initiatives announced by President Nursultan Nazarbayev in March 2018. They also cover lower tax burdens, accessibility of higher education, business loans and gasification.
The affordable housing programme provides mortgage loans at a 7-percent interest rate for a maximum of 25 years with a 20 percent down payment. Six banks are participating in the programme.
“The progress is constantly published in the media and social networks. There is a 24/7 call centre. National Bank offices and the Baspana mortgage organisation regularly conduct meetings with people in all regions. Six million citizens were reached out to,” said Akishev.
The ministries responsible for implementing the social initiatives also reported updates.
First Vice Minister of National Economy Ruslan Dalenov said work is underway to reduce the tax burden to improve wages for low-paid workers.
“All preparations were finalised. Legal changes entered into force starting Jan. 1. Tax payers were informed,” he said.
The tax burden was cut ten times for citizens whose monthly wages fall below 63,125 tenge (US$166.60) and nearly two million workers will receive an additional 15,000 tenge (US$39.58) per year.
After studying the experiences of other countries, the ministry is considering the possibility of introducing a progressive individual income tax.
The third initiative is meant to expand the accessibility and quality of higher education.
Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev said the number of governmental education grants rose by 20,000 in 2018, reaching 69,000 nationwide. Of those, 53,000 are for bachelor studies, 13,000 for masters and more than 2,000 for PhD students.
Technical majors account for half of the scholarships, including information and communication technologies, cyber security and radio technology.
Unified national testing, previously only conducted at the end of a final academic year to assess graduates’ knowledge across five subjects, is now held four times a year, allowing students to finish school earlier and enrol in universities. The first testing in January gathered more than 35,000 students.
The ministry also oversees dormitories and plans to add an additional 5,000 places this year.
“As of today, we have received 20 applications for 11,144 places in three and a-half months. We signed 12 contracts for 6,556 places. Most of them are being built and we plan to sign eight more by the end of this month that will provide 4,588 places,” said Sagadiyev.
Supporting businesses is also among the priorities, with a focus on self-employed and unemployed citizens.
Minister of Labour and Social Protection Madina Abylkassymova said financing increased by 20 billion tenge (US$52.7 million) last year, including six billion (US$15.8 million) in cities and 14 billion (US$36.9 million) in rural areas.
“Given the additional funds, the total volume of microcredits reached 62 billion tenge (US$163.6 million). Of those, 45 billion (US$118.7 million) were allotted for microcredits in rural areas and 17 billion tenge (US$44.8 million) in cities. The number of people who used the opportunity grew two-fold, reaching 14,000,” she said.
The programme envisions providing microcredits to set up microbusinesses, expand on-going businesses and develop cooperation.
The term is five years, except for projects in farming and agricultural cooperatives where the term is seven years. Of 14,053 microloans provided last year, 70 percent were for farming, followed by crop production (2.7 percent) and poultry breeding (2.2 percent).
The fifth initiative seeks to ensure a supply of gas to the capital, Karaganda, Kokshetau, Kyzylorda, Petropavlovsk, Temirtau and Zhezkazgan, home to an estimated 2.7 million citizens.
Nazarbayev launched construction of the 370-billion tenge (US$976 million) Saryarka pipeline in December. The first stage along the Kyzylorda-Zhezkazgan-Karaganda-Temirtau-Astana route is currently being built.
“AstanaGaz [a subsidiary of KazMunayGas] and KazStroyService company signed a schedule for the implementation of this project Dec. 29. The construction of the gas pipeline will be carried out simultaneously in five linear streams. The plan is to finish construction of the linear part of the gas pipeline that includes installation of cranes, gas measuring stations, automated gas distribution stations, electrochemical protection and hydrotesting of the pipeline by the end of 2019,” said Abylkassymova.