Economic News in Brief

Kazakhstan’s government and its National Bank announced in a joint statement March 20 that they “will carry out the instructions and announced initiatives of the First President,” referring to former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. State programmes and structural reforms under the umbrella of Strategic Development Plans to 2025 and 2050 will continue, and the government will remain focused on maintaining a stable, predictable fiscal policy geared toward macroeconomic stability. The government and the bank will fulfil all budget commitments and social initiatives and work to prevent unjustified price increases, especially for socially significant goods and services. The National Bank will continue to pursue a predictable monetary policy aimed at maintaining low inflation. National Bank analysts expect Kazakhstan’s economy to grow at a minimum level of 3.8 percent with inflation in the range of 4 to 6 percent.

Preliminary data for 2018 shows that domestic tourism grew 5 percent, said Kazakh Tourism Company Chair Rashid Kuzembayev. In the first three quarters of 2018, outbound tourism grew 4 percent year on year to 8.2 million tourists, entry tourism grew 16.6 percent to 6.8 million people and internal tourism grew 5.8 percent to 4.6 million tourists. Inbound tourism increased 10.2 percent compared to 2017, and approximately 8.5 million people visited Kazakhstan in the period. Arrivals increased from the company’s target countries, among them the United Arab Emirates (a 50 percent increase), India (49 percent), Malaysia (44 percent), Hong Kong (22 percent) and Poland (16 percent). Kazakh Tourism will introduce a separate sectoral state programme for the development of tourism in the next three to four months.

The prices of an average Kazakh preschool institution’s services decreased 0.5 percent to 810 tenge (US$2.10) per visit as of March. Almaty kindergartens for low-income and large families have been free since spring. The Almaty akimat (city administration) runs the Bakytty Otbasy (“Happy Family”) programme, which makes kindergarten free for 350 children. Currently, 710 children from large families are enrolled in preschool education in the city, while an electronic queue indicates that there are 1,717 more children in the category. In the fourth quarter of last year, preschool education services and training totalled 82.7 billion tenge (US$218.51 million), an increase of 14.2 percent in 2018. The national budget covers 75.4 percent of services that preschool educational organisations offer.

The average monthly wage in Kazakhstan reached 176,100 tenge (US$465.30) in the fourth quarter of 2018, which is 7.5 percent more than in the same period in 2017. Wage growth overtook inflation, and the purchasing power of the population increased 2.2 percent in 2018. The salary fund, the money that enterprises transfer to banks for the payment of salaries, reached 1.88 trillion tenge (US$4.97 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, 8.5 percent more than in 2017. The deposit volume of legal entities, which includes salary funds, increased 1.6 percent in January to 8.4 trillion tenge (US$22.19 billion).

Unrefined sunflower oil production increased 10.8 percent in January to 12,800 tonnes. Refined oil production, in contrast, fell by 29.5 percent to 7,300 tonnes. Most of Kazakhstan’s sunflower oil production is done in the East Kazakhstan region, which produced 82.4 percent of the country’s total unrefined oil and 71.5 percent of the refined. This year, it produced 10,500 tonnes of unrefined oil, an 11.8 percent increase since last year, and 5,200 tonnes of refined oil, a 21.7 percent decrease. The region’s biggest oil producer, the Sei-Nar Production Complex, sends over 60 percent of its production to China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The company produces meal, cake and other processed products as well. The KazakhExport insurance company has given Sei-Nar a 2 billion tenge (US$5.28 million) insurance protection on a bank loan to purchase sunflower for its production and export.

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