Economic news in brief

Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin hosted the Dec. 19 government meeting regarding the country’s green economy transition, where participants discussed construction of a gas pipeline to supply Nur-Sultan, reported primeminister.kz. “The construction of the gas pipeline to Nur-Sultan is at the completion stage and commissioning is scheduled for Dec. 31 of this year. At the same time, preparatory work is underway to build gas distribution networks in the capital, Karaganda and Akmola regions,” said Nur-Sultan Akim (Mayor) Altay Kulginov. The participants also discussed renewable energy sources, as there are currently 84 renewable energy sources (RES) objects functioning in Kazakhstan with three more to be constructed by the end of 2019. The number is planned to increase to 119 by 2021.

Kazakh National Bank will regulate online loans beginning Jan. 1, reported Tengrinews.kz Dec. 13. The online loan market is currently unregulated despite the increasing popularity among citizens, which leaves consumers vulnerable to predatory actions, according to the bank. The regulations will involve stricter requirements regarding identification, as there were complaints about online loan fraud. In addition, online loans will require more rigorous credit checks, as well as reports to the loan database, which banks are not presently required to do. The National Bank will also regulate the maximum possible loan rates.

Kazakh bankruptcy law will be drafted and implemented after the work on the comprehensive income declaration, as well as informing the public about bankruptcy, is completed, said Kazakh National Bank Deputy Chair Oleg Smolyakov Dec. 11 to Tengrinews.kz. “You need to understand that the bankruptcy procedure cannot be widespread. It may not be that with a minimum or a small amount of debt, the borrower will be able to pass the overdue procedure. Many countries have minimum thresholds and a minimum number of days of delay. This is a very selective mechanism; it cannot be regarded as a massive response to all problems,” he said. 

Consumer loan growth rates have decreased, reported the Kazakh National Bank Dec. 18. In 2017, growth rates were at 31 percent, while in 2018 they were at 28 percent. In the first ten months of 2019, the growth rate dropped to 8 percent. The bank also reported that regarding the ratio of consumer loans to the country’s GDP, Kazakhstan can be classified as a country with small debt levels. Next year, the bank will restrict the conditions for getting a loan. In addition, fines for not paying loans on time will only be taken up to 90 days after missing the deadline to decrease the payment burden on consumers.

Kazakhstan’s GDP is expected to grow 3.8 percent in 2020, instead of the earlier 3.7-percent prediction, reported the Kazakh National Bank press service Dec. 18. GDP growth in 2019 was 4.2 percent, instead of the predicted 4 percent. “The revision of forecasts is associated with a positive fiscal impulse in 2020 and a reassessment of the forecast of gross capital formation towards higher growth as a result of the expected continuation of the implementation of infrastructure and investment projects,” said the press service representative.

Pensions, social payments and benefits will be raised starting Jan. 1, reported the Ministry of Labour press service Dec. 20. The minimum wage will increase 1,500 tenge (US$3.91) to 31,183 tenge (US$81.21), basic state pensions will hike 5 percent to 16,839 tenge (US$44) and combined pensions will increase 7 percent to 38,636 (US$100.62). Payments for the loss of the family breadwinner and disability will be raised 5 percent.