Kazakhstan In A New Reality: Time For Action

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s State of the Nation Address

Photo credit: akorda.kz

The work of the next session of Parliament begins at a challenging time.

Our country continues to confront the pandemic that threatens the entire global community. We have mobilised all resources to protect the life and health of Kazakh citizens. At the critical hour, the people of Kazakhstan rallied into a single whole.

The fight against coronavirus clearly demonstrated the root features of our people: mutual assistance, compassion, and readiness to jointly confront an unprecedented disaster.

I express my sincere gratitude to doctors, law enforcement officials, military personnel, volunteers, entrepreneurs and all concerned, conscientious citizens for their steadfastness and responsibility. You have shown a vivid example of resilience and responsibility. I consider this a manifestation of genuine patriotism.

In such difficult conditions, our main task is to maintain social and economic stability, employment and incomes of the population.

Two packages of operational anti-crisis measures have been adopted. More than 4.5 million Kazakhs, who temporarily lost their income, have received assistance in the amount of 42,500 tenge ($101). More than 450 billion tenge ($1.7 billion) has been allocated for these purposes. In neighbouring states and even in many developed countries, this kind of assistance was not provided.

Over a million people have received food and household packages. On the initiative of the Leader of the Nation, the Chairman of the Nur Otan party, more than 550,000 families were covered by the one-time financial support of the Birgemiz Fund.

The pandemic has become a stress test for all states. They face many difficulties in the fight against the virus. One moment the situation either stabilises, the next moment new outbreaks appear.

The government has learned from its mistakes, and managed to reorganise literally on the go. The main thing is that we didn’t hide anything from our citizens, we talk truthfully about losses, no matter how bitter it may be. This distinguishes Kazakhstan favourably from some states.

But the improvement in the epidemiological situation is not a reason for complacency. The fight continues. According to the forecast of the World Health Organisation, it will take at least two years to defeat the pandemic.

The coming months will be in a mode of increased mobilisation. We must be ready for this. It is necessary to work thoughtfully, proactively, and not extinguish “fires” thoughtlessly. All decisions must be based on sound forecasts.

The government is introducing pinpoint restrictions and an adaptive quarantine mechanism. A Comprehensive Programme to fight the pandemic will be developed.

All obligations of the state in the social sphere and in terms of supporting the economy will be fulfilled. For these purposes, 1 trillion tenge ($2.3 billion) is allocated from the National Fund. The indexation of social payments will continue. By 2023, it is planned to allocate over 1 trillion ($2.3 billion) tenge for this.

We will definitely overcome the current difficulties. But we must not forget about the long-term development of our state in the new geopolitical realities.

Today, the world has plunged into the deepest recession in a century. The restoration of the global economy, according to experts, will take at least 3 to 5 years.

Meanwhile, the competitiveness of future leading states emerges precisely in the era of crises and fundamental changes. Kazakhstan must find its rightful place in the new world.

Thanks to the far-sighted policy of the First President – Leader of the Nation Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, solid groundwork has been created in economic development, and serious authority has been gained on the world stage.

In the context of the formation of a new global order, we have to give substantial impetus to reforms, the quintessence of which is the Plan of the Nation and the Five Institutional Reforms.

We are obliged to ensure a decent life for our citizens, protect their rights, strengthen the rule of law, and strengthen the fight against corruption.

So what is our plan of action? 

I. A NEW MODEL OF GOVERNMENT

Reforms in this area should be carried out systematically.

Let’s start by changing the approaches to public administration, personnel policy, decision-making system and responsibility for their implementation.

In the context of a pandemic and crisis, the current public administration system operates at maximum speed. Solving operational tasks takes time and resources. But in no case should you lose sight of the distant horizon. Therefore, I have decided to create an Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, which will report directly to the President.

Such a body previously existed and successfully carried out the tasks assigned to it. Now it will again become the central link of the entire system of state planning. The reforms developed by the Agency must be specific, realistic and, most importantly, mandatory for all government agencies.

The Supreme Presidential Council for Reforms is being created, the decisions of which will become final. For greater objectivity in assessing the rapidly changing situation, the Committee on Statistics is being transferred to the Agency. 

It so happened that in the system of state planning, the state apparatus acts as the main planner, executor and appraiser. This is not right.

The state planning system should ensure the mobilisation of all human resources, involve the private sector and society as full partners at all stages: planning, execution, evaluation.

It is necessary to stop preparing state programmes with a large number of indicators. It’s time to move to the format of concise national projects, understandable to all citizens. As goal-setting, the result should hold primacy over the process.

Carrying out such a radical reform will require a revision of the activities of the entire state apparatus. Synergy in the planning and implementation of reforms becomes important here.

It will require a reboot of the civil service system. The pandemic and the transfer of most government officials to work remotely showed that the state apparatus can and should be reduced.

I instruct to speed up the timing of the reduction of the state apparatus and workers of the quasi-public sector. This year they should be cut by 10%, and next year by another 15%. Thus, we will solve the problem of reducing officials by 25% in 2021. Depending on the results and taking into account digitisation, we will make a decision on further reductions.

The saved funds will increase the salaries of the remaining employees. Low-paid public service is too expensive for society. Misunderstanding of this issue leads to negative selection, loss of competencies, initiative and, most importantly, corruption. Therefore, from July 1, 2021, a factor-point scale should be introduced. This will lead to increased responsibility and motivation of civil servants.

We are in dire need of new personnel – professional, with fresh views and initiatives. The civil service should not turn into a closed caste.

At the same time, it is important to ensure continuity and institutional memory without letting professional and ethical demands fall. Here I would like to dwell on the question of the institution of executive secretaries.

With the introduction of this institution, it was assumed that their unchanging nature would release ministers from administrative and personnel work and ensure the stability of the apparatus. In fact, this did not happen. Moreover, there are frequent cases of lack of mutual understanding between ministers and executive secretaries. As a result, the common cause suffers.

The demand should be from one person – a minister appointed by the President. Therefore, the institution of executive secretaries should be abolished, their responsibilities should be assigned to the heads of the ministries’ staff.

To implement the above proposals, I am instructing to adopt a package of amendments to the civil service legislation by the end of the year.

The law-making issues should also be reviewed.

During the quarantine, the sluggishness of the legal system gave rise to a “bottleneck” effect. I had to introduce a state of emergency and adopt the so-called “emergency decree”. But such measures cannot be a systemic response to crisis situations.

The main problem lies in the excessive legislative regulation of the executive branch. We demand from ministers and governors, but their powers are limited by detailed norms of laws and regulations. This slows down the work of not only the state apparatus, but also loads the Parliament. Its Chambers are forced to work on detailed rules, which could become the competence of the executive bodies.

In a rapidly changing world, slow decision-making becomes a threat to national security. Therefore, within the framework of the Concept of Legal Policy, by changing the legislation, a balance should be ensured between the levels of legal regulation. We must not hesitate with this.

Improving the corporate governance of quasi-state companies is another important problem to be addressed.

There are dozens of national companies and tens of thousands of state-owned enterprises operating in the country. At the same time, large quasi-state organisations are joint stock companies, the purpose of which is to ensure profit. But if part of the state functions is transferred to them, then their activities should be of a purely service, auxiliary nature for citizens and the economy.

In many joint stock companies there was a confusion of concepts. Corporate governance becomes an additional bureaucratic procedure.

The reform of the entire quasi-public sector must be continued. Some decisions will be announced today, the rest will be presented to me through Government proposals. 

II. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN NEW REALITIES

The long oil super cycle appears to be over. We should be prepared for a completely new world market environment.

The creation of a truly diversified, technological economy is not just a necessity for us, this path is without any other alternatives.

At the same time, the economy must work to improve the well-being of the people. We must find a positive answer to the growing public demand for a fair sharing of benefits from the growth of national income and for effective social “lifts”.

Therefore, the new economic course of our country should be based on seven basic principles:

1. Equitable distribution of benefits and responsibilities.

2. The leading role of private enterprise.

3. Fair competition, opening markets for a new generation of entrepreneurs.

4. Increased productivity, increased complexity and technological effectiveness of the economy.

5. Development of human capital, investment in a new type of education.

6. “Green” economy, environmental protection.

7. Adoption of well-grounded decisions by the state and responsibility for them before society.

In doing so, we must proceed from our competitive advantages and real capabilities.

* * *

The most important task facing Kazakhstan is the full expansion of its industrial potential.

Despite the successes in this area, we have not yet managed to realise the full potential of the domestic market; about two-thirds of processed goods are imported from abroad.

To ensure the strategic self-sufficiency of the national economy, it is necessary to urgently begin the development of new redistributions in ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, petrochemicals, automobile and mechanical engineering, the production of building materials, food products and other sectors.

The development of a qualitatively new national industry requires a modernised legal framework.

Regulatory and support issues for industry are contained in many disparate pieces of legislation. However, cross-cutting goals are not defined there, there is no link between policies and measures.

There are many laws that govern specific sectors or industries. For example, the Law “On Electricity”, the Law “On Transport”.

By the end of the year, a unified Law “On Industrial Policy” should be developed, which will define the basic principles, goals and objectives of the manufacturing industry.

It is also necessary to fill measures to support industry with concrete content. We do not have enough consistency, a holistic approach. Because of this, we are scattering resources on too many projects.

Of course, we will maintain broad “horizontal” measures to support the industry. At the same time, the Government will have to identify strategically important production facilities, key export priorities, and significantly expand the toolkit of support measures.

For strategic projects, package provision of in-kind grants, concessional financing, partial guarantees, and export support mechanisms should be envisaged. Some of the capital expenditures of investors can be recovered by offset against tax liabilities.

It is important to ensure guaranteed procurement from the state, quasi-state sectors and subsoil users.

The main novelty is the stability of legislative conditions for the entire duration of the project.

Of course, these measures are not exhaustive. The specific level of support will depend on the volume of capital investments and the priority of the project.

In order to fix the agreements between the state and investors, a new instrument will be introduced – a strategic investment agreement.

This initiative should be implemented by the end of the year under the draft law on economic recovery. The pool of projects that will be included in strategic agreements will be formed by the Government by April 2021.

The issue of full access of processing enterprises to domestic raw materials at affordable prices requires a systemic solution.

I instruct the Government to develop regulatory mechanisms by the end of the year to ensure full loading of Kazakh manufacturing industries with raw materials.

Regulated purchasing has a direct effect on industrial development. Their volume is about 15 trillion tenge ($35.7 billion), or a fifth of GDP. The task of the Government and governors is to maximise this potential.

On my instructions, a new law was adopted that improved the procurement system of government agencies. However, procurement by national companies is still non-transparent and inaccessible to ordinary entrepreneurs.

By the end of the year, I am instructing to develop a unified law covering all purchases of the quasi-public sector. All regulated procurement should be carried out as transparently as possible and exclusively through the Single Procurement Window.

Any improvement in legislation will not help if there is no appropriate law enforcement practice.

It is not uncommon for cheap and low-quality imported goods to be passed off as domestic product, which win procurement competitions. The register of domestic manufacturers and industrial certificates have not yet become a real barrier for false manufacturers.

By the end of the year, the Government together with the Atameken National Chamber will prepare specific proposals to increase the domestic content.

Our common task in the sector is to increase production in the manufacturing industry by at least 1.5 times in five years.

However, significant progress in industrialisation cannot be achieved only through industrial policy measures. It is imperative that monetary, fiscal and other key policies are not isolated from the needs of the real sector. I will discuss this further.

* * *

A competitive economy cannot be created without developed agriculture.

In this area, such key problems as limited access to land, lack of available long-term financing, and a shortage of professional personnel still remain unresolved.

Measures are urgently needed to increase productivity, move away from raw materials, and develop warehouse and transport infrastructure.

In our country, it is possible to establish 7 large ecosystems for the production and processing of meat, fruits, vegetables, sugar, cereals, oilseeds, dairy products. The fishing industry deserves close attention. Large projects have a key role to play as the centerpiece of value creation.

Within the framework of vertical cooperation, the potential of personal subsidiary plots should also be effectively used. A private household can provide an opportunity for millions of villagers to receive income. We need to involve them in the creation of regional food hubs.

We need to be mindful of potential and horizontal cooperation. Without it, there will be no breakthrough in the development of the agro-industrial complex. Scattered personal subsidiary plots are actually on the brink of survival. There can be no talk about high productivity, product quality, or regularity of commodity deliveries. Hence the low competitiveness and dominance of imports.

During cooperation, all rights to land and assets are retained, at the same time, it helps to consolidate the efforts of many farms in the purchase of raw materials, production and sale of products. It is no secret that hard rural labour is priced extremely cheaply, and resellers get the main profit. Therefore, within the framework of subsidies and tax incentives, a package of measures should be prepared to stimulate cooperation in the countryside.

Another important question relates to the fact that at the end of next year, the moratorium on certain norms of the Land Code on the use of agricultural lands ends.

Our land will not be sold to foreigners. But the Government has to develop other ways of involving agricultural land in a full-fledged economic turnover. Investment in the agricultural sector is critical.

The systemic problems in the agro-industrial complex are the lack of professional personnel, as well as the low level of development of agricultural science. Here decisive measures are needed on the part of the executive branch.

Technologically outdated irrigation systems remain a serious barrier. Water loss reaches 40%. For water-scarce Kazakhstan, such indicators are unacceptable. It is necessary to ensure the legal regulation of this area, as well as develop economic incentives for the introduction of modern technologies and innovations.

The current state programme for the development of the agro-industrial complex will be completed next year. I instruct the Government, together with business, to start developing a new National Project for the Development of the Agro-Industrial Complex for a five-year period.

Our main tasks:

– self-sufficiency in socially significant food products;

– stable increase in the income of millions of rural residents;

– increase in labour productivity by two and a half times;

– doubling the export of agricultural products. 

* * *

The development of the transport and logistics industry remains an urgent issue.

The implementation of the first stage of the Nurly Zhol programme was successful, it enabled to connect the capital of the country with the regions according to the “sunray” principle. A new infrastructure framework of the transport system has been formed, the country’s integration into global transport corridors has been ensured, the historical status of Kazakhstan as a connecting link between Asia and Europe has been restored.

However, the competition in this area is very high. Alternative projects have appeared in the Central Asian region that can reduce the transit potential of Kazakhstan.

Therefore, the second stage of “Nurly Zhol” should be aimed at consolidating the leading role of the transport and transit sector of our country.

Kazakhstan’s competitiveness should grow due to breakthrough infrastructure projects, attracting new countries and companies, increasing the level of service and the speed of transit routes.

The task is to reconstruct and provide road services for 24,000 kilometres of roads by 2025, that is, all roads in the country. 

* * *

Small and medium businesses are going through difficult times. In fact, they are taking the brunt of the pandemic.

To overcome the negative economic consequences, tax breaks were provided to more than 700,000 entrepreneurs, payments have been deferred, and an opportunity has been given to refinance loans on favourable terms. However, the situation is still difficult.

As an additional aid to small and medium-sized businesses, I am instructing to provide state subsidies for interest rates of up to 6% per annum on all existing loans to SMEs in the affected sectors of the economy. The subsidy will cover a period of 12 months, starting from the moment of the announcement of the state of emergency, that is, from March 16 of this year.

The National Bank is implementing a special working capital replenishment programme for SMEs in the most affected sectors. Previously it was assumed that it will complete its operation this year.

In the current crisis conditions, I instruct to extend this programme until the end of 2021, as well as expand its coverage. For these purposes, an additional 200 billion tenge ($476 million) should be provided, bringing the total volume of the programme to 800 billion ($1.9 billion) tenge.

I also instruct to suspend until the end of the year the charging of rent for SMEs for real estate objects owned by government agencies and the quasi-public sector.

In the current conditions, maintaining employment and incomes of the population is an absolute priority. Therefore, it is important for this period to reduce the burden on the wages fund for SMEs in the most affected industries. For this category of business, I instruct to cancel deductions from wages to extra-budgetary funds for a period until the end of the year.

The next question is the business climate. This area needs reforms, since the regulatory system remains cumbersome, even punitive.

The basic principles of regulatory policy need to be changed. State regulation can only be justified by protecting the health of citizens and the environment.

Both on a legislative level and in practice, the predominance of essence over form should be fixed: common sense and content can prevail over strict legal norms. The three-year moratorium on inspections provides a good opportunity to introduce such regulation from scratch.

We should start with the most corrupt spheres: architectural and construction activities, sanitary and epidemiological supervision, veterinary medicine, certification and others. I am instructing to develop a new regulatory framework for small and medium-sized businesses within the next year.

I repeat: any illegal interference of state structures in entrepreneurial activity, obstruction of the work of businessmen should be perceived as the gravest crime against the state. In case of illegal pressure on them by officials, businesses should not hesitate to contact the prosecutor’s offices.

Supporting entrepreneurship also means paying special attention to medium-sized businesses, which contain the key components of market success. Such companies should be focused not only on the domestic but also on foreign markets. Their export support should be strengthened.

I instruct the Government to launch an export acceleration programme aimed at medium-sized non-resource enterprises in order to provide targeted support from the idea stage to implementation.

The main result of the work on the development of SMEs should be an increase by 2025 of its share in GDP to 35%, and the number of employees – to 4 million people. 

* * *

Reconfiguring cross-cutting government policies will be a critical success factor in our work.

A new approach to monetary policy needs to be taken.

We are faced with a crisis of confidence in the tenge on the part of national and international investors. The low level of economic diversification and high volatility of the exchange rate restrain the inflow of foreign investment, especially in non-resource sectors.

The problems of regulating the foreign exchange market and capital movements also play a negative role. A significant part of export earnings does not even go to the domestic foreign exchange market, it remains abroad. The Government and the National Bank should motivate exporters to sell foreign exchange earnings.

The stimulating role of monetary policy needs to be strengthened as well. Today, it is largely constrained by fears of an overflow of funds to the foreign exchange market. Banks are in no hurry to lend to the real economy, since they have a good opportunity to earn money on the foreign exchange market and on the instruments of the National Bank.

I am instructing to take measures to reorient this liquidity towards lending to businesses and stop currency speculation. The powers and functionality of the Financial Markets Regulatory Agency and the National Bank are sufficient to solve this problem. I expect a significant improvement in the situation by the end of the year.

The imbalance between lending to the consumer segment and business also remains a negative factor in the financial sector. Rampant, sometimes irresponsible lending to consumers which is fraught with serious social consequences, should be regulated. Lack of financial literacy of citizens should not be a reason for imposing credit products on them.

This year, on my instruction, the legislative and regulatory framework was changed, the requirements for assessing the borrower’s solvency were significantly tightened. Microfinance organisations, pawnshops and other financial institutions that previously issued consumer loans uncontrollably came under state regulation. But risks remain. Especially during the crisis and falling incomes of the population.

The Financial Regulatory Agency and the National Bank need to take additional regulatory measures in terms of increasing the responsibility of credit institutions, as well as differentiating and lowering the marginal interest rates on loans.

We must increase confidence in monetary policy as well. Therefore, it has been decided to create a Monetary Policy Committee within the structure of the National Bank. It will also include independent members.

Since we are talking about the importance of a fair redistribution of national income, then the same tax policy should be developed, understandable to all citizens of the country.

Today, about 40 different taxes and fees are levied, administration is complicated and has a pronounced compulsory character. 

I instruct the Government, together with the National Chamber of Atameken, with the involvement of the deputy corps, to revise the Tax Code and by-laws. The goal is to radically simplify the fulfilment of tax obligations and minimise the number of taxes and payments.

We should also think about the differentiation of tax rates as an additional lever for diversifying the economy and replenishing the budget.

In the SME sector, I consider it possible to empower entrepreneurs working in the sectors most affected by the pandemic to pay retail sales tax.

International taxation rules require special attention. They should maximally stimulate the inflow of foreign investment and reinvestment of profits in Kazakhstan.

At the same time, reliable control over transfer pricing and capital withdrawal from the country is needed. According to expert estimates, about a third of the country’s GDP is in the shadow economy – a huge potential for increasing budget revenues.

Digitisation of the tax and customs spheres will seriously help in the fight against the “shadow economy” in all its manifestations. Moreover, corruption is fuelled by the shadow economy.

Therefore, I instruct to reorient the activities of the Economic Investigation Service of the Ministry of Finance, mainly on the fight against the shadow economy.

We have to work out a new budgetary policy that is lean and responsible. Only priority areas and projects should be financed. The period of monetary excesses has sunk into oblivion. It is necessary to develop a set of key budget coefficients and rules. 

To form a complete picture, it is necessary to introduce the so-called “extended budget”, in which, in addition to the state budget, the finances of extra-budgetary funds must be taken into account. 

The new budget planning system should support national priorities and become a subordinate part of the national planning system.

Government agencies should be given budgetary independence. This will enable to quickly solve problems and move away from collective irresponsibility and red tape.

However, demand should also be tightened. To this end, I am instructing to strengthen the functionality of the Accounts Committee. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, a separate procedure for its financing should be envisaged through the specialised committees of the Parliament, and not through the Republican Budget Commission under the Government.

Competition policy is becoming increasingly important. It is necessary to seriously diversify the competitive field, create truly equal opportunities for every entrepreneur, and stop monopolising markets. 

It is no secret that many market niches are densely “concreted” by far from market methods. Entrepreneurs cannot enter the market, and if they did manage to enter, they are forced to obey private monopolists.

Anticompetitive situations persist everywhere: the market for coal, electricity, oil products, communications, pharmaceuticals, airport services, housing and communal services, and logistics. The list goes on.

At the regional level, the administrative resource is often the main component of commercial success.

It is necessary to deal with the so-called “monopoly players” – public and private. It is important to accept clear rules: in what cases and in what form they are created, where the profit is spent. Strong public monitoring is needed.

It is required to put things in order with exchange trading, and, first of all, in the field of oil products, electricity, coal. Imitation of transparency on the part of large players is unacceptable.

Therefore, a strong and independent body for the protection and development of competition is needed. I am instructing to create an Agency for the Protection and Development of Competition which will report directly to the President.

Denationalisation of the economy plays an important role in the development of equal competition.

The central government agencies, governors’ offices and holdings still own about 7,000 non-social facilities.

But the phrase that the state is not the best business executive is already an axiom.

The Government needs to adopt a new privatisation plan. The state should cover only social aspects, as well as aspects related to ensuring the security and functioning of the state.

In the quasi-public sector, work should continue to reduce administrative and management personnel, unproductive costs and redundant subsidiaries.

I would also like to dwell on the role of the Baiterek and KazAgro holdings. They made a significant contribution to the industrialisation and development of the agro-industrial complex, streamlined the activities of previously scattered financial institutions.

Now we are in a different reality that requires a change in the institutional structure. I consider it expedient to unite these two organisations, to create a single development institution with much greater financial capabilities.

At the same time, the number of portfolio companies should be reduced by half, and the number of staff will also be reduced by 50%.

It is necessary to more actively approach the promotion of the economic interests of our state in the international arena, to defend national interests in a pragmatic and professional manner.

It is necessary to maximise for the good of the country the use of the great opportunities associated with Kazakhstan’s participation in the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as in the “Belt and Road” project.

Work on attracting investments and promoting the export of Kazakh goods and services in the new world realities is becoming a priority for the Government.

It is necessary to effectively use the potential of the Astana International Financial Centre. This platform should become a key tool for attracting direct and portfolio investments.

* * *

Concluding this topic, I want to say that people cannot be blessed with the abstract growth of GDP, they need permanent jobs, good roads, hospitals and schools, quality food.

Economic reforms are justified and supported only when they increase the income of citizens and ensure higher standards of quality of life. We must always remember this.

III. BALANCED TERRITORIAL DEVELOPMENT

It is necessary to substantially restructure the approaches to the country’s territorial and spatial development.

Our regions differ in economic and industrial specialisation, living standards, and quality of public services. Therefore, territorial development should be built taking into account the competitive advantages of different regions.

The industrial potential of the south and southeast of the country should be more actively developed. Half of the state’s labour resources are concentrated here, high-quality jobs are critically important for the development of these regions.

In addition to traditional support for the agricultural sector, the most substantial attention should be paid to the deep processing of agricultural products, the development of the food and textile industries, the production of building materials and other industrial sectors.

Industrialisation is important not only for solving social issues and raising the level of income, it forms a new mentality of citizens, adapts them to the modern world. And this is one of the basic factors of the nation’s competitiveness.

A new vision of the development of regions where large metallurgical enterprises operate is required. These are, first and foremost, the East Kazakhstan, Karagandy and Pavlodar regions. These regions can become centres of high-tech, science-intensive industries and technical services.

The western regions of Kazakhstan should become the centre of attraction for investments in the construction of petrochemical complexes, the creation of new production cycles of high added value. The fact that we still do not have petro chemistry and high-value gas processing is, “does not fit into any door”, as the saying goes.

It is especially important to give “second wind” to our monotowns. Here, great responsibility is assigned to the city-forming enterprises. This task will not be completed without their active participation.

Almost 30 million people live in the border regions of Kazakhstan and Russia, where there are several million-plus cities. Close interaction with Russian authorities and organisations to promote Kazakh goods and attract investment is a very important factor in the development of Kazakh border regions.

The problem of full expansion of the potential of villages remains strategically important. The implementation of the programme “the village is the cradle of the country”, aimed at solving the most acute problems in the countryside, will continue.

A new approach to regional development will help manage the process of urbanisation, ensure the phasing of “migration waves”, avoid overpopulation and social tension in large cities.

IV. SOCIAL WELL-BEING OF CITIZENS IS A TOP PRIORITY

The social well-being of citizens is inextricably linked, first of all, with the housing issue. 

In market conditions, the affordability of housing for citizens is based on the availability of income and the ability to independently solve this problem. As part of my instructions, the issue the population using a part of their pension savings was worked out. This is especially relevant now.

Already in 2021, 700,000 Unified Accumulative Pension Fund contributors will be able to use part of their savings for the purchase of housing, medical treatment or for transferring it to the management of financial companies. I instruct the Government, together with the National Bank, to adopt all the necessary regulations and carry out preparatory work by the end of this year.

This reform will also become an effective tool for “whitewashing” labour relations, creating incentives for participation in the pension system.

Effective social support will be provided to citizens with insufficient income to independently resolve housing issues.  

This year the programme “5-10-25” began to operate. 390 billion tenge ($928 million) was allocated. The implementation of this programme must be constantly monitored by the Government.

Housing problems of those on the waiting list need to be resolved more quickly. The governors’ offices are currently independently building rental housing for them. Due to budgetary and procurement procedures, this takes a long time. The time has come to make changes to this scheme.

Funds should be directed not only to construction, but also to subsidise rent. In the first year, the coverage of this measure will increase 10-fold, more than 100,000 families will receive specific assistance. I instructed Otbasy Bank to streamline this work, which is being created on the basis of Zhilstroysberbank. The bank’s management bears personal responsibility. 

The Nurly Zher programme is being implemented slowly in terms of the construction of individual housing. This is mainly due to the low rates of development of territories, since, according to the legislation, land can be provided only if there is water and electricity supply. 

A house is not only housing; it can become an economic aid for low-income citizens, especially for large families. The Government and governors’ offices are obliged to accelerate the provision of communications for plots for social private houses, including through public-private partnerships.

I ask members of parliament to take the solution of this important problem “under their wing”. Can’t we provide affordable housing for rural workers, force employers to build rental houses through subsidising costs and, ultimately, improve the quality of life of our many fellow citizens?! 

* * *

The family and demographic situation is a matter of serious concern.

Unfortunately, every sixth family in Kazakhstan cannot have children. Opinion polls show that about 20% of Kazakhs consider this a weighty reason for divorce.

The UN forecasts for the growth of the population of Kazakhstan in comparison with our neighbours in Central Asia are disappointing. I instruct the Government to launch a special programme “The longing baby” from 2021. It is necessary to increase the number of quotas for IVF programmes to 7,000, that is, 7-fold. 

Special attention should be paid to issues of safety and protection of children’s rights.

We have significantly increased the criminal liability for acts of a sexual nature against minors. But the problem remains acute.

Such criminals deserve more severe punishment, without the right to pardon and early release. They should be kept in maximum security facilities.

Each such case should be under the special control of the prosecutor’s office. Inaction or negligence on the part of social and law enforcement agencies will be severely punished.

Overall, we need a new paradigm of social policy. 

The sphere of social security is regulated by 17 laws and dozens of bylaws. This has led to the complexity and fragmentation of regulation. The result is a blurring of the responsibility of the state, a lack of understanding by citizens of their own rights. I instruct the Government to start developing the Social Code of the country.

Measures should be taken to digitise social payments. For this, it is necessary to introduce a digital “social wallet” of a citizen, as well as create an appropriate distribution system.

Our society will have to change its perception regarding the value of labour, and teach the young generation to value work, not to divide it into prestigious and non-prestigious.  

Unfortunately, young people want to get rich instantly, hence their craze for lotteries, and betting. Inappropriate anecdotes about immigrant workers and a derogatory attitude towards their work have become popular in everyday life.

During these troubling months, we saw first-hand the enduring value of work. A huge work effort has been done by junior medical personnel, utility and service workers. This is a real labour feat. The people who carried it out will not be left without the attention of the state. 

V. ACCESSIBLE AND QUALITY EDUCATION

In connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of schoolchildren and students in the world have switched to distance learning. This entails a completely different style and content of the work.

The government’s miscalculations in organising distance learning are well known. There is still essentially no operational online platform. Teachers, students and their parents have to use WhatsApp for days. There is an urgent need to develop a unified educational online platform with a set of all the necessary functions for a full-fledged educational process.

At the same time, quality education implies traditional lessons, communication with teachers and peers. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the procedure for returning to the traditional form of full-time education in compliance with epidemiological requirements. This is especially important for schools.

In addition to addressing pressing issues, it is necessary to develop systemic measures to ensure equality of opportunities for children. Our children should receive quality education, regardless of where they live and the language in which they are being taught.

One of the main problems of our education is the low salaries of teachers.

I have already made a decision to increase the salaries of teachers by 25% from January 2021. The increase will continue in the future. For these purposes, an additional 1.2 trillion tenge ($2.8 billion) will be allocated over the next three years.

We need to solve the problem of the all-round development of children before they enter school. I have set a task to ensure by 2025 100% coverage of preschool education and teaching for children under 6 years of age.

Only building state kindergartens will not solve this problem. We need to attract private business, find new forms of support, including a voucher financing mechanism. Parents can choose any kindergarten or school and pay with a voucher from the state.

Experts reasonably argue that state support for only gifted schoolchildren can increase the societal distance between children. This is unacceptable.

In this regard, the state will support the so-called “ordinary” schools. It will also help bridge the gap between urban and rural areas in education.

In order to increase the level of literacy of citizens and their digital knowledge, I instruct the Government to develop a Concept of lifelong education. This document should ensure the active introduction of alternative options for non-formal education, recognition of the results of independent learning, certification of professional skills.

We must also reorient the entire vocational education system towards the formation of competencies that are in demand in the labour market.

The stake will be placed on preparing a new wave of entrepreneurs. Therefore, the subject “Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship” should be studied at all levels of education – from schools to universities.

It is necessary to pay the most serious attention to the sports and creative potential of the younger generation.

In conditions of a shortage of funds, it makes no sense to support professional sports clubs entirely at the expense of the state. Billions of tenge from the state budget and quasi-state companies are spent inefficiently.

Priority should be given to mass sports, physical education and, of course, children. In each region, sports facilities should be opened in large district centres.

It is necessary to resume the activity of “children’s circles”, where representatives of the young generation could learn the basics of creativity and handicraft.

Modern realities can be so dangerous for children, therefore their energy and curiosity need to be directed in the right direction. After all, children are the future of our state. We will evaluate the work of governors by this criterion.

I want to say a few words about the quality of education. Last year, I ordered the closure of educational institutions involved in the “printing” of diplomas.

The implementation of this is challenging because of the resistance of influential people involved in this lucrative educational business. But the problem needs to be solved. The Prime Minister should take this issue under special control.

I would also like to touch upon the issue of the development of science.

Here we need a fresh look, new approaches, reliance on international experience.

I instruct the Government to provide internships in leading research centres of the world for 500 scientists annually, as well as provide 1000 grants for young scientists for research under the Zhas Galym project. 

An important source of funding and support for science is the funds of the largest enterprises, especially the raw materials sector.

The current norm on the deduction of 1% of capital investments for the development of science and technology is not transparent. Often these funds are simply redistributed within companies. I instruct the Government to ensure the centralisation of collection and distribution of these funds through the budget, based on national scientific priorities.

A good step on the part of big business would be to take over the “patronage” of regional universities in terms of their scientific activities.

We need a separate programme document on the scientific and technological development of the country. Its primary task will be to attract science to solve problems of the national level. 

VI. DEVELOPMENT OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

The pandemic crisis has taught us a lot. For example, to appreciate the work of a doctor. But health workers were once on the periphery of state attention.

Of course, the importance of the medical profession must be supported financially. I instruct to allocate 150 billion tenge ($357 million) for the payment of incentive bonuses to medical workers for the second half of the year when the budget is revised soon.

We are doing this now, during the crisis, and we must continue to do this on a systematic basis. By 2023, medical wages will be twice the average wage in the economy.

The issues of the supply of medicines have been resolved, but the domestic pharmaceutical industry needs to be put on its feet. All basic medicines and medical devices must be manufactured in Kazakhstan. This is a national security issue. From next year I expect concrete results in this area.

Another issue is the development of medical infrastructure.

By the end of the year, 13 new hospitals focusing on infectious diseases will be built in the regions of the country. And by 2025, 20 modern multifunctional healthcare facilities will be commissioned. This means an inflow of about one and a half trillion tenge of investments in health care.

On the initiative of the Leader of the Nation, two multidisciplinary medical centres will appear in Nur-Sultan and Almaty. They will become the flagships of our medicine, growth points for innovation and development of applied medical science.

The government will have to radically reconsider approaches to the organisation of primary health care. It should become more mobile and accessible to a wide range of the population, including those living in the countryside.

Measures should be taken to revive the transportation of medicine to remote regions. To create effective rural health care within three years, it will be necessary to provide all rural villages with feldsher-obstetric stations and medical outpatient clinics.

The pandemic has sharply raised the issue of training doctors in rare specialties: epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, resuscitators, pulmonologists, and cardiologists. I instruct the Government to draw up a long-term forecast (10 years) of staffing medical institutions. 

Measures for the further development of national health care will make it possible to fully equip all medical organisations with the necessary equipment, to update the hospital beds fund by 50%, replace outdated infrastructure, and increase the life expectancy to 75 years.

VII. ECOLOGY AND PROTECTION OF BIODIVERSITY

Environmental protection and ecological development come to the fore on the agenda of Kazakhstan. The whole civilised world is dealing with this issue, and we should not stay away from the main trend.

A draft of a new Environmental Code has been developed to solve a number of systemic problems. I ask the Parliament to consider and adopt this important document by the end of the year.

I instruct the government to start implementing practical measures to improve the environmental situation. Long-term plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity should be approved.

Over the next five years, more than 2 billion trees will be planted in the countryside and 15 million in cities and towns. This initiative will lead to a large-scale greening of our country.

There is an acute issue of building up the green belt around the capital.

Legislatively and normatively, it is necessary to protect national parks and other natural resources of Kazakhstan, to toughen the criminal and administrative prosecution of citizens who commit offenses in this area.

It is necessary to pay due attention to the ecological education of the younger generation in schools and universities. The environmental campaign “Together – clean Kazakhstan”, designed to strengthen environmental values ​​in society, should be carried out on a systematic basis.

An important task is the active development of a culture of ecological tourism within the country.

In the medium term, economic growth should become increasingly green. Therefore, the foundation for deep decarbonisation should be laid now. I instruct the Government, in cooperation with the scientific community and the private sector, to develop a package of proposals for “green growth”.

The government, together with the civil sector, will also have to develop a draft law on the protection of animals. The attitude to animals is a measure of the civilisation of any state, and we are far from perfect in this regard.

VIII. A FAIR STATE THAT PROTECTS THE INTERESTS OF CITIZENS

No aspect of socio-economic development can be successfully implemented without the rule of law and guaranteeing the safety of our citizens.

A “Listening State” is, in fact, the concept of building a “Fair State”. It is not enough just to hear and see the problems of citizens, the main thing is to correctly and objectively respond to them.

There is a lot of work ahead to develop new standards for serving the interests of citizens. The law enforcement and judicial systems play a key role in this. Reforms are absolutely necessary here.

Reality is changing rapidly. The more security forces rely on best practices, the more likely they are to fit into the context of international practice.

The current situation in the country imposes new requirements on law enforcement agencies, which must meet the demands of citizens.

However, due to the inertia of the past, an accusatory bias still prevails in the work of the law enforcement system. There are frequent cases when citizens are unjustifiably drawn in into the orbit of criminal prosecution.

Operational officers, who detect crimes, and investigators, who make procedural decisions, both report to the same superiors, for whom the main task is to solve the crime and send the case to court. But the rights and freedoms of citizens should not suffer for the sake of indicators.

As for the prosecutor’s supervision, it is belated. Prosecutors get acquainted with the circumstances of the case only before being sent to court.

The criminal sphere should be modernised, following the example of the developed OECD countries. We need a model that ensures timely protection of citizens’ rights and meets high international standards. I consider it necessary to introduce in Kazakhstan a three-tier model with a clear division of powers.

The police must identify crimes, identify those involved, collect and consolidate evidence.

The prosecutor is obliged to give an independent assessment of the collected evidence, stop the violations of the rights of citizens, prevent the involvement of conscientious citizens in the criminal process and to support the prosecution in court.

The court will consider complaints against the actions of the authorities and issue a final verdict on cases.

This approach will strengthen the system of checks and balances, and create effective filters at every stage.

I emphasise again: legality and fairness must be ensured by default. It must be remembered that the fate of people depends on mistakes in criminal cases.

From 2021, it should be legally imposed on the prosecutor in criminal cases to agree on key procedural decisions affecting human rights and freedoms.

It is important to ensure the stability of criminal procedure legislation. Its frequent adjustments have a negative effect on law enforcement and do not allow for the development of a uniform investigative and judicial practice.

Decisions regarding the application of legislation are often made without proper analysis and forecasting, based on the convenience of law enforcement officers. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new concepts of “administrative” and “criminal” offenses. The society and the legal community will understand the logic of establishing punishment for offenses.

Throughout the progressive world, the institution of police is developing on the basis of a service model. We also announced the transition to such a model, but so far the work has led only to fragmentary results.

The time has come for a more holistic reform of the local police service on the principle of “police at a walking distance”, where the key role is assigned to the district inspector.

It is necessary to legislatively raise the status of the district inspector, provide him with all the opportunities for productive work. He must be recognizable, accessible, authoritative for citizens, and actively defend citizens’ rights.

It is important to teach law enforcement officers to conduct an open dialogue with people. This direction should become a priority in the system of training and selection of personnel.

Much is said about the development of video surveillance systems, but at the same time, the premises of the law enforcement agencies often remain “blind” zones. I instruct to introduce continuous video surveillance in penitentiary institutions and police offices.

The structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs needs to be revised, freeing it from non-core functions, which will increase the efficiency of this important department.

Considering that we have entered the era of natural and man-made disasters, I believe it is necessary to recreate the Ministry of Emergency Situations. 

There are also problems in crime prevention work. It is necessary to reorient the supervision of the prosecutor’s office to effectively address the problems faced by citizens and businesses. 

It so happens that as soon as a respectable investor appears on the horizon, law enforcement and regulatory authorities immediately run to check him. The government and the Parliament will have to legislatively protect business from excessive interference by law enforcement agencies. 

The current thresholds for bringing businesses to criminal liability for tax violations require revision. Any investigative actions against registered entrepreneurs can only be carried out with the approval of a court or a prosecutor. This option should also be considered.

An important criterion for the rule of law is impartial and fair justice. The court must be adversarial and the judge free from the prosecution. For this, it is necessary to ensure equality between lawyer and the prosecutor. 

Building public confidence in the courts should be a priority. Its achievement is possible only through joint efforts of the state and the judiciary itself.

The judiciary should not be a closed corporation. The Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Court should intensify efforts to recruit new professionals to administer justice. The judicial system needs specialists in the field of taxation, subsoil use, intellectual property, and corporate law. 

The selection of judges should be accompanied by media coverage so that the public knows for what merits certain candidates were hired.

It is also necessary to develop alternative ways of resolving disputes, which will make it possible to find compromises without the participation of the state. Such institutions have worked well in developed countries. 

Almost ten years ago we adopted the Law on Mediation. But until now, not a single state body is engaged in its development, there is no intelligible state policy. This state of affairs should be corrected.

A representative Commission for the reform of the law enforcement and judicial system is being created under the Presidential Administration. 

The fight against corruption is becoming more systemic. More attention has been paid to the causes of corruption, and preventive work is being carried out. 

Now it is necessary to conduct an anti-corruption analysis of regulations and work processes in government agencies and the quasi-public sector to identify corruption-creating factors.  

At the same time, the fight against corruption should not cause officials to lose independence, initiative, and efficiency due to the fear of being held accountable. 

Supporting the institution of public control as an alternative to state control, we must create an appropriate legal framework. I instruct to develop and adopt the Law “On Public Control”, designed to ensure openness and accountability to society of state bodies and the quasi-public sector.

It is necessary to further enhance the role of public councils by involving them in the work of procurement commissions. The creation of public councils in the quasi-public sector should also be envisaged. The relevant legislation is in Parliament and should be adopted by the end of the year. 

At the same time, representatives of different social groups should be widely involved in the composition of Public Councils. For example, it is necessary to create the necessary conditions for the participation of people with disabilities in the work of such structures, which should always be in the area of ​​special attention of the state. 

It is extremely important to create a single information resource, where information on the financial and economic activities of quasi-state structures, the use of budgetary funds and other relevant data will be available to society. 

Openness of information on decisions of state bodies will facilitate constructive dialogue with civil society. It is desirable to pass the legislation on access to information before the end of the current session.

I also consider it advisable to introduce new anti-corruption tools. From 2021, a new anti-corruption restriction should be introduced for civil servants, deputies, judges regarding their ownership of accounts, storage of cash and valuables in foreign banks.

If civil servants or heads of quasi-state organisations have dual citizenship, they are subject to dismissal from their positions. 

It is necessary to amend the Criminal Code in terms of toughening penalties for corruption of law enforcement officials, judges, bribe givers and intermediaries in bribery.

Parole will not be applied to persons who committed corruption offenses. It is necessary to strictly adhere to the rule prohibiting persons convicted of corruption from working in the civil service or in the quasi-public sector for life. We must form at the legislative level a system for the protection of persons who reported cases of corruption. 

It is critical to take new measures to protect human rights. For me, this issue is a priority.

Like the rest of the world, Kazakhstan is also faced with the vulnerability of citizens from bullying on the Internet. First and foremost, children suffer from this. They are especially sensitive to cyberbullying, which, unfortunately, has dire consequences. It’s time to take legislative action to protect citizens, especially children, from cyberbullying.

Other measures to protect children’s rights need to be strengthened, in particular to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, regarding a procedure for communication. 

The issue of improving national legislation to combat torture also remains relevant. This document, which criminalises torture, needs to be brought in line with the provisions of the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman Acts. 

The fight against human trafficking is also on our agenda. In this regard, Kazakhstan does not look good in the eyes of the international community. Law enforcement agencies will have to improve the procedure for investigating such crimes. They must be severely punished by the courts. This important task requires coordinated actions of government agencies. 

I hope for the speedy adoption of the relevant laws in Parliament.

IX. DIGITISATION IS A BASIC ELEMENT OF ALL REFORMS

Digitisation is not a fashion trend, but a key instrument for achieving national competitiveness. 

First of all, it is necessary to eliminate the digital divide, ensure maximum access to the Internet and high-quality communication for all citizens. Today it is as basic a need as roads and electricity.

Children from socially vulnerable families should be provided with computers and high-quality internet. By the end of this year, each village with a population of over 250 people will have access to the Internet. 

We see the problems people face when assigning pensions and benefits. A heap of papers, running in despair from place to place. It is necessary to fully digitise these processes. “Data” should “run”, not people.

We must strive to abandon the use of paper in interagency cooperation and when communicating with citizens. I instruct you to cancel the most demanded certificates and paper confirmations (30 out of 47) by the end of the year, to provide digital confirmation of information. 

There is already a good practice for address, property and other similar certificates. Identity cards, diplomas, licenses must be accepted by government agencies in electronic form.

To simplify the interaction of the population with electronic services, biometrics should be widely used at the level of public services and in private business.

Working with “data” must reach a new level. Provision of a unified database system, their further development is one of the main tasks of the Government. 

So far, this work has not been properly built, including due to the dominance in the IT industry of a number of state-owned and affiliated companies. 

Ministries and governors’ offices also have information and analytical or IT structures that protect only narrow departmental interests at the expense of the overall strategy.

The development of the IT market, engineering and other high-tech services is not only the creation of added value and jobs within the country, more and more opportunities appear for the export of such services abroad. It is important to unleash this potential.

Interaction between the IT industry and national business is seen as a promising area.

Large state and private companies spend tens of billions of tenge on the design and applications of foreign players. The government should establish mutually beneficial cooperation between industry and the IT sector. This will create digital technology platforms that can drive the digital ecosystem of every industry.

We have passed laws allowing Kazakhstan to become one of the international hubs for the processing and storage of “data”. Over the past year alone, more than 80 billion tenge ($190 million) of investments were attracted to digital mining. But we cannot stop here, we should attract the world’s digital giants to the country. Otherwise, other states will do it. 

It is necessary to bring the volume of investments in this industry up to 500 billion tenge ($1.1 billion) within five years.

X. CIVIL PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNANCE OF THE STATE

We set a course for the establishment of the “Listening State”. As I said, the essence of this approach is not simply the situational response of government agencies to the daily problems of the population. This is, first of all, a constant dialogue between the authorities and society.

The National Council of Public Confidence gave a new impetus to the development of public dialogue. It justified its mission by institutionalising the nationwide dialogue process in our country, which resulted in a package of political reforms.

In particular, the Law “On Peaceful Assemblies”, new in its democratic essence, was adopted, amendments were made to the Laws “On Political Parties”, “On Elections”, “On Parliament and the Status of its Deputies”, as well as amendments were made to the Criminal Code regarding decriminalising Article 130 and humanising Article 174. I am grateful to the Parliament for high-quality and efficient work.

This is only the beginning of our reforms in the political sphere, and its modernisation will continue. It is necessary to reform practically all the institutions of state power. The main goal of the reforms is to increase the efficiency of the functioning of the entire state.

If we really want to improve the lives of our citizens, then we should involve them in the reform process. Our subsequent political reforms should be aimed at wider involvement of people in the government of the country.

For example, opinion polls show an increased demand for election of rural governors. This important step should be approached carefully and consistently. It is necessary to clearly understand how this system will work in practice. However, the solution of this issue cannot be postponed indefinitely.

The term of office of a number of heads of rural districts will end next year. I believe it is possible to conduct direct elections of rural governors.

In addition to the electivity of local authorities, it is necessary to determine the division of powers between the levels of government, as well as with local self-government.

An extremely important point is the development of a model for budgetary financing of the regions. It is not only about the “centre-region” relationship, but also about the distribution of funds within the region.

It is necessary to strengthen control over the process of approving local budgets, since funds are often not directed to the real needs of residents. Annual renovation of the same streets, senseless spending on image events – all this causes just indignation of citizens. 

With regard to socially significant expenditures on infrastructure and social initiatives, the budgets of districts and villages should go through public expertise, including using online surveys.

It is necessary to strengthen the financial capabilities of local government. To do this, it is necessary to expand property rights and increase the revenues of the budgets of rural districts. This should be the next stage in the development of “public participation budgets”. By December 1 of this year, the Government will develop a regulatory framework and mechanisms for solving this important problem.

Representative bodies – maslihats are called upon to monitor the optimal use of local resources. But their opinions are often ignored. This is already a political anachronism.

I also believe it is possible to endow maslihats with the function of collecting signatures and drawing up petitions on the development of the region or local problems that have not been resolved at times for decades.

It is also necessary to strengthen the audit commissions of maslihats. I instruct the Government and the Accounts Committee to prepare a package of relevant amendments to the legislation.

It is necessary to introduce mandatory online broadcasts of the meetings of maslihats. Discussions of people’s representatives, their socio-political appearance should not be a secret for society.

It is proposed to gradually differentiate the powers of local government bodies and local self-government bodies.

It is necessary to raise the status of local self-government bodies – gatherings and assemblies. Their opinion on topical problems on the ground should be taken into account by regional maslihats for making specific decisions.

Separately, we should consider the issue of self-government in cities.

A reform was launched to introduce the institution of associations of property owners (APO). A corresponding law has been adopted, all apartment complexes will gradually switch to this form of management.

The reform is designed to take into account the views of residents on property management, accountability in spending funds on maintenance and repairs.

The government and governors must ensure that this important reform is implemented. After all, APO is, in fact, a basic element of the institution of self-organisation and self-government.

The time has come to develop a new Concept for the development of local self-government. Parliament on its basis will adopt a package of relevant laws.

It must be admitted that formalism and lack of efficiency are still widely present in the work of government agencies. Citizens are forced to demand the solution of their local problems from the central government, to file complaints with the Head of State. Therefore, it is time to delegate more authority and responsibility to local leaders.

         Through social media, problems that cannot be solved locally are made known throughout the country.

         It is necessary to create a single legitimate institution of online petitions for citizens to initiate reforms and proposals. Such a mechanism must be completely protected from any manipulation.

         The government, in cooperation with civil society, will have to develop a regulatory framework and resolve all technical issues related to this important project.

         The most important mission of protecting the interests of the country’s citizens will continue to be carried out by political parties.

         The Nur Otan Party by its actions confirms the status of the leading political force in our society. The party’s potential will be used in the implementation of all planned reforms.

         At the same time, I, as the Head of State, must work on the development of a real multi-party system.

         We are not standing still, we are progressively improving our political system, adapting it to the new reality. Our society needs political reforms, so they will definitely continue.

         It should be remembered that the main enemies of democracy are ignorance and populism. I hope that our citizens will support the reforms and, having received new political opportunities, will not allow society to slide into “hypocracy.”

         The success of all these reforms and transformations depends on our solidarity, patriotism, and civic responsibility. 

XI. NEW QUALITY OF THE NATION 

Today we are faced with the task of forming a new paradigm of our people’s lives, improving the quality of the entire nation.

Life itself dictates to us the need to adapt to the requirements of the time as an individual and society as a whole.

Only a nation striving forward can demonstrate the achievements of a progressive country on a global scale.

I want our people to have more qualities that are good and exemplary for the whole world. 

For a new development of our nation, our daily life attitudes must change.

And new principles should reign in society and new guidelines should be consolidated.

“To have knowledge, you need to learn. To be rich, you have to do business. Unity and cohesion are necessary for power. For these needs it is necessary to work tirelessly”, – these words of the teacher of the nation Akhmet Baitursynov are relevant today.  

First, the generation of the twenty-first century must be highly educated.

Secondly, it is necessary to accustom young people to tireless work.

Thirdly, it is correct when professionalism is the basis of any business.

Fourth, iron discipline and high responsibility must become characteristic features of all of us.

Fifth, one must not deviate from the path of justice. Justice is an important condition for the development of society. This quality is of particular importance in the fate of the country and the people.

Sixth, we need to cultivate qualities such as honesty, frugality, and solidity. We all want to see Kazakhs in this way. Only through this path can we build a competitive state and create an intelligent nation.

The task of the national intelligentsia at the new stage is to root new principles of national existence, as well as to contribute to improving the quality of the nation.

The renewed society must gradually get rid of alien habits.

Extravagance and pomp do not honour either society or a person. Irresponsibility, indifference, carelessness can lead to the tragedy of the entire country. And idle talk and bragging slows down the development of society. The great Abai wrote about this, saying “… lies, slander and pride hide the face of truth”. This problem is relevant to this day.

We must instil in every citizen the great value and high ideals of labour.

A strong system “Responsible State – Responsible Society – Responsible Person” must be rooted in our country.

Dear compatriots!

The country faces great and complex tasks. Their successful solution requires extraordinary approaches, new thinking, universal solidarity and mutual support.

Our strategic course is clear. We are well aware of our problems and shortcomings.

Today I presented to the whole society a plan of action for the state in a situation of crisis. The ultimate success of the reforms depends on each of us.

Everyone should change and work on themselves. The challenges of the time force us to constantly develop, improve, and become stronger. Each person is the smith of his own happiness, and together we create a happy future for our country.

Each generation faces a different challenge. The constant overcoming of all challenges of fate runs through our history as a red thread. Our people are capable and ready to tackle the most difficult tasks.

We are a generation that has embodied the long-term dreams and aspirations of our people about Independence. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of our Independence. This date is an important milestone for sovereign Kazakhstan. This is the beginning of a new historical period.

We bear a huge responsibility for the future of the state.

In unity and agreement, we will overcome all challenges and achieve all our goals.

I am firmly convinced that we can do it.

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