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Kazakh National Bank lays out strict rules for collections agencies’ behaviour


ASTANA – The National Bank of Kazakhstan has announced what will be considered legal methods of interaction between collection agencies and debtors.

On Jan. 9, representatives of the National Bank met with employees of collection agencies and public associations, the press service of the regulator reported. Representatives of the National Bank announced legally permitted ways representatives of collections agencies can interact with debtors: telephone calls; personal meetings; written notices sent to individual debtors at their places of residence (legal address); written notices sent to debtors that are legal entities at their location (actual address); text, voice and other messages by cellular communication; and messages sent via the internet.

Photo credit: depositphoto.com

The National Bank also laid out the times debtors may be contacted by collection agencies, limiting the interactions to weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. No more than three telephone conversations are allowed in a day between those hours, with no more than three meetings allowed between those hours in a week, and only one meeting permissible in a single day.

It was also noted that the debtor should choose the time of any interaction. Any personal contact on holidays and weekends is prohibited.

The head of the department for the protection of the rights of consumers of financial services and external communications of the National Bank, Alexander Terentyev, outlined actions by collector agencies that are considered unfair and therefore banned.

They include any method of interaction not listed above. Specific actions that are banned include spreading information discrediting the honour, dignity and business reputation of the debtor and his representatives or disclosing information that may cause property damage to them; taking actions that infringe on the rights and freedoms of the debtor and his representatives, endangering their life and health or the state of their property; exerting pressure by threatening to use violence or destroying or damaging the property of the debtor or his representative or third parties; producing insulting, fraudulent or forged documents or blackmail, forcing the debtor to fulfil bank obligations; misrepresenting the size or nature of the debtor’s obligations; accepting cash or property to pay off the debt; demanding that other debts be repaid with property; or disclosing secrets about the debtors’ payments protected by the laws of Kazakhstan.

Since collection activities are specific and socially sensitive, Terentyev called on the heads of collection agencies to pay special attention to hiring individuals with an impeccable business reputation, as well as conducting regular explanatory work for employees who interact with debtors.

He noted that according to Kazakhstan’s laws on collective activity, employees who are registered in medical institutions relating to their psycho-, drug, tuberculosis conditions, or who are or have been prosecuted for offenses against the debtor or those connected with him are not allowed to interact with the debtor or his representative.

Officials of the National Bank also warned representatives of collection agencies about the consequences of violating these laws, and that any sign of violation would be passed over to law enforcement agencies for investigation as criminal offenses.



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Astana cat café invites feline friends to spend holidays with pets, opens first cat hotel


ASTANA – Pet businesses are an emerging trend. While their uniqueness can be both attractive and challenging to find their niche and customers, doing what one loves is one of the key elements of a successful business.

Miki Piki Cat Café founder Aigul Kurmanaliyeva is enthusiastic about running an establishment related to her favourite animal.

“My husband and our children are fond of cats and we always have cats at home. We knew about cat cafés and two years ago when we were in South Korea, we went to the famous animal cafés. We really liked this idea and had a great desire to open a similar café in our city,” said Kurmanaliyeva in an interview for this story.

It took almost two years from inception to opening and the entrepreneurs launched their eatery in July during EXPO 2017.

“We were glad to find this perfect location with a separate entrance and everything here meets our requirements. Then, we immediately bought nine kittens of different breeds. It is important not only to gather cats, but to make them feel comfortable with each other. Our cats grew up together as a family and now they are like brothers and sisters. We named the café after our tenth cat. My son called her Miki Piki and we still do not know what that means,” she said.

24174517_2004137693132591_1882834474709307336_nKurmanaliyeva believes their café attracts visitors because they have social friendly cats. They are on cloud nine when people come to them.

“Many people think that this is a café only for children; in fact, it is a café for everyone. Now, we have 15 cats. We have more British Shorthair cats and Scottish Fold cats. There is also an Abyssinian cat, Bengal cat, Elf cat, Exotic Shorthair cat, Kurilian Bobtail cat, Norwegian Forest cat, Maine Coon cat, Oriental cat, Persian cat, Sphynx cats and a Siamese cat,” she noted.

The concept café works as an anti-café with a drink and pastry menu. There is table hockey, a billiards table and piano. The two-hour entrance fee is 2,500 tenge (US$7.50) for adults and 1,500 tenge (US$4.50) for children.

Visitors are not permitted to bring their own pets. Guests are prohibited from running and shouting, because cats are very sensitive and like a quiet environment.

“All our cats are neutered to prevent unwanted behaviour. They have passports and received all mandatory and additional vaccines, because many people come to us and we need to protect them. We keep everything clean and ask visitors to put on shoe covers and treat their hands with an antiseptic. Our café is much more like a kindergarten,” said Kurmanaliyeva.

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“Children should learn to play gently with pets. They should know how to pick up and hold pets the right way, otherwise it is not safe to play with them. We try to gather different cat breeds so that our visitors come and get closely acquainted with them. Many people come to work as volunteers and help us to look after the cats. We wanted to create a home environment and a young designer helped us implement this cosy interior. Cats are associated with the house and we have soft carpets and sofas. There’s a separate area for food and drink,” she added.

The café also has a small cat hotel. A passport and vaccinations are required and the cost is 2,000 tenge (US$6) per day.

“Our cats are given gifts and volunteers bring some food. Some visitors have their favourite pets and they come to certain cats. We do not do advertising, as it’s expensive; we promote our café through social media,” she said.

Veterinarians by occupation, the Kurmanaliyeva family was involved for a long time in cow breeding and farming.

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“There are some challenges in running this kind of business to achieve self-sufficiency. We have a lot of expenses including food, fillers, vaccines, sterilisation and vitamins. This is more like a social project for us now. Children and students are our regular customers. People also come from neighbouring cities on weekends. We want to collaborate with the city administration and to include our café in Astana’s sightseeing map,” she said.

The company also welcomes new volunteers to join their team.

“Some say that dogs are loyal, but I think cats are also very devoted friends. When we come in the morning, they run to greet us. They are gentle and kind. They have their instincts. They feel people who love cats,” said Kurmanaliyeva.

The café’s hours are 3 p.m.- 9 p.m., weekdays, and it opens at 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Visits should be booked in advance to control the number of guests.

Address:  58A Kabanbai Batyr Street, Building 1.

Contact number: +7 778 347 1277.



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Kazakhstan’s new tax code provides simplified regime for SMEs, new principles in administration


ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s new Tax Code entered into force Jan. 1. The updated code provides for the introduction of some changes in the existing tax legislation, including a simplified tax regime for small and medium-sized businesses, the cancellation of some tax privileges and the introduction of new principles in tax administration.

In describing the code previously, Kazakh Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov said that it aimed primarily at the development of small and medium-sized businesses. One way to support that is its new alternative tax regime, which uses a fixed deduction (taking into account income and expenses) of 30 percent. Business owners themselves will be able to choose which regime is more profitable for them. Businesses that make a maximum income of 300 million tenge (US$903,000) and have a maximum of 50 employees can opt for this regime.

Relief is also offered to business in the form of fewer inspections: from 32 reasons for inspection, there are now just 14. The tax rate for individual entrepreneurs working under the patent was reduced from 2 to 1 percent.

Tax changes have been made in the agrarian sector, in geological exploration and subsoil use, industry and investment and special economic zones. The financial sector is expected to recover, and the burden on payrolls has been reduced, according to zakon.kz.

In order to solve this issue and in order to maintain the current load, the social tax rate was reduced from 11 percent to 9.5 percent.

Inefficient benefits and payments have been cut. Auction fees have been cancelled, as have payments for the use of navigable waterways, since the state does not provide services and permits in these cases, according to Suleimenov.

Privileges have been cancelled for turnover from the services of slot machines, sales of lottery tickets, state postal payment signs and the import of postage stamps. Privileges that contradict World Trade Organisation (WTO) requirements were cancelled as well. The WTO requires equal conditions for taxation for domestically produced goods and imports. Revenues from e-commerce are now exempt from corporate income tax and individual income tax.

New principles in the field of tax administration have been introduced in an effort to establish clear rules for interaction between state revenue bodies and taxpayers. These are the principle of legality, the principle of effective interaction and the principle of risk-based administration. Rights and responsibilities for conducting tax audits have been clarified and the risk management system has been radically revised. Tax administration, including incentive and control measures, will be built on a foundation of a differentiated approach to taxpayers. For low-risk taxpayers, there are no tax inspections, and the timing of reporting, the payment of debts, the possibility of participation in horizontal monitoring and other activities may be relaxed.

Amendments to the new Tax Code can be made no more than once a year.



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13 enterprises worth 9.4 billion tenge launched in South Kazakhstan in 2017


ASTANA – Thirteen enterprises were established in the South Kazakhstan region last year under the National Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development for 2015-2019. The programme aims to boost economic diversification and improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing industry.

Photo credit: kapital.kz.

The new enterprises started manufacturing various goods and created new jobs in the first 11 months of the year. Rakhat-Shymkent constructed an 850-million tenge (US$2.6 million) shop to produce wafer rolls, generating 28 positions. The annual production capacity is 1,700 tonnes.

Borte Milka launched a dairy products facility in the Ordabasy district. The 900-million tenge (US$2.7 million) plant has an annual production capacity of 4,320 tonnes. Baza-Service opened a canning shop in the Saryagash district for fruit and vegetable storage. The plant, with a price tag of 500 million tenge (US$1.5 million), is capable of manufacturing 40,000 cans per year.

Asia Agro built a plant in the Otyrar district to grow and process up to 5,000 tonnes of corn to provide feed for poultry farms. Akmergen, well-known for its new project of using natural reeds in production, opened a 622.3-million tenge (US$1.9 million) plant employing 30 workers.

The Rakhmankulov furniture factory in Shymkent can manufacture 4,000 units under the Bella Zhikhazy brand. The cost of the project is 506 million tenge (US$1.52 million) and the entrepreneur received 300 million tenge (US$903,000) under the Business Road Map 2020 programme. The plant uses modern technology and created 50 openings.

Syrly Sozak, which processes polymer waste and produces low pressure pipes, was established in the Suzak district industrial zone. The factory, supplying products to uranium enterprises, employs 31 people.

In the Kazygurt district, the Otyrabat-Kurylys plant started producing aerated concrete blocks. The 120-million tenge (US$361,000) enterprise created 12 jobs. Corporation City Story opened a plant capable of producing 750,000 tonnes of asphalt per year. The project cost 280 million tenge (US$843,000).

Ruberoid company Bumprom launched a 100-million tenge (US$301,000) plant to produce cardboard paper, drywall and cement bags. The factory is capable of producing 4,000 tonnes of product per year. The Dezfumen project, which started functioning last year, cost 150 million tenge (US$455,000).

In Shymkent, RET produces bricks with ceramic coating. The cost of the enterprise, capable of producing 20 million bricks per year, is 103 million tenge (US$310,000).

Chimpharm, owned by Polish firm Polpharma, launched a 4.3-billion tenge (US$13 million) shop to manufacture solid medicinal production forms. The plant’s annual capacity is 200 million tablets.

The entrepreneurship support programme provides help for 135 projects in South Kazakhstan with a total cost of 1.2 trillion tenge (US$3.6 billion) and has created 17,500 jobs.



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MyBusiness: business without borders app to aid entrepreneurs doing business in Kazakhstan


ASTANA – The “MyBusiness: business without borders” app, developed and created by Chevron, the British Council and the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, is a hoped-for way to protect the rights of entrepreneurs in the country.

“The mobile application ‘MyBusiness: business without borders’ is a unique software product created for the business community of the countries of the Eurasian continent to support, develop and expand transparent conditions for its successful quantitative and qualitative growth,” said Yerlan Stambekov, chair of the Almaty Chamber of Entrepreneurs regional council during the app presentation in Almaty in mid-December. “We express our gratitude to Chevron and the British Council for their assistance in developing the section on social entrepreneurship for this application.”

The app includes various government databases, registrars, procedures for registering business in Kazakhstan, the list of banks and legal database for entrepreneurs interested in doing business in this part of the world in English, Kazakh, Mandarin and Russian. It also features tips from experienced businesspeople who have been doing business in the country, frequently asked questions and success stories.

The community of foreign entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan is also interested in participating in the project and has offered its business-related information to be uploaded into the database.

“The interest to doing business in Kazakhstan is growing. Eight countries have reciprocated, among them China, Russia, Belarus and Armenia. The foreign investors and businesspeople have expressed a desire to post information about themselves in the application and to tell how they conduct business in their countries,” noted Stambekov.

He added approximately 60 entrepreneurs successfully used the app in 2016 to secure legal aid in resolving paperwork. More than 20,000 people are currently using the app with their own personal pages and the chance to display their business and services.

The presentation was held as part of closing a phase of the I-SEED (Innovations – Social Entrepreneurship and Education) project, implemented by the British Council and Chevron since 2013. The project’s goal is to support socially pro-active youth in Kazakhstan and create conditions for a sustainable solution of social problems through promoting social entrepreneurship.

The nearly 300 people who took part in the project last year had the chance to learn more about project management, fund raising, project presentation to potential investors and business planning. They independently implemented 18 social projects and developed 12 social entrepreneurship projects, with the two best receiving $2,000 in funding from Chevron. The company is one of the leading private oil companies in Kazakhstan with significant shares in two large oil projects – Tengiz and Karachaganak.

The British Council, which works in the fields of cultural relations and educational opportunities, contributes to creating a friendly atmosphere for building cooperation and strengthening mutual understanding between the United Kingdom and other countries.



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Mangistau region intends to boost energy efficiency, build business environment


ASTANA – Construction of wind and solar power plants is underway in an effort to develop renewable energy sources in the Mangistau region in 2018, according to the regional press service.

Two facilities, a five-megawatt wind farm in Akshukur village of the Tupkaragan district and a seven-megawatt solar power plant in Batyr village of the Munaily district, will be completed in the first quarter. A 12-megawatt solar power plant in Shetpe village is expected to launch by the end of the year.

Energy and Utilities Department head Sapar Amanbekov

“A desalination plant with a capacity of 50,000 cubic metres per day will be built using the technology of the world’s leading companies to provide a water supply to the region. The Caspian desalination plant will be entering the second stage of modernisation to increase productivity by 20,000 cubic metres per day and bring the total capacity to 40,000 cubic metres per day,” said energy and utilities department head Sapar Amanbekov at a Dec. 26 meeting.

Four energy and two water supply projects are expected to be implemented from the list of 105 projects presented at EXPO 2017 and approved by the Ministry of Energy.

A 250-megawatt combined cycle gas turbine unit will be launched at the site of the former Aktau nuclear power plant as part of the public-private partnership. The unit aims to cover electricity demand and increase the reliability of the energy supply at the central heating and power plant if a high load growth scenario occurs. The competition was announced to attract private investors.

Total utility bill debts in the region decreased from 2.1 billion to 1.6 billion tenge (US$6.3 million – $5 million) compared to the same period last year. Local executive bodies have recommended monitoring heating system functions in residential buildings and taking appropriate measures to ensure timely payment of debts.

Mangistau, better known for its vast oil and gas onshore and offshore reserves, is ranked second in the local Ease of Doing Business list. The 204 projects worth more 11 billion tenge (US$33 million) were subsidised as part of the Business Road Map. The number is 1.3 times more than last year’s figure and nearly 1,400 jobs were created.

The 47,000 small and medium businesses showed a growth of 107 percent year on year. The enterprises employ approximately 112,000 people, 103.2 percent more than last year.



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Nazarbayev University graduates develop device to lower cost of electricity delivery


ASTANA – Nazarbayev University graduates have developed a device to extend the working capacity of transformers, the press service of the city administration reported recently.

Photo credit: astana.gov.kz

The project, named Remote Monitoring of Transformers, implies a cloud system with registered algorithms on the servers. According to manager and member of the start-up team Adlet Zaurenbek, data from transformers will be collected and processed. The data will be used to increase the efficiency of transformers and their life cycle.

The team of young scientists believe this invention will help monitor, identify and eliminate problems in the work of transformers.

“The transformer is the same machine that eventually breaks down. If the problem is not detected in time, it will eventually lead to breakdown. The faster the device is repaired, the cheaper it will cost. The efficiency will increase many times, and it will save a lot of money,” he explained.

The cost of the transformer reaches several hundred thousand dollars. Large power plants own a huge number of such devices.

“For example, Astana – Regional Electric Grid Company has about 100,000 transformers, the cost of each is almost $150,000. If they increase their life cycle by five years, this will save billions. In the future, our system will act as artificial intelligence,” Zaurenbek said.

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Photo credit: astana.gov.kz

The invention underwent testing experimentally: it figured out a breakdown and automatically reported this.

“In the course of the experiment, after eight hours and 35 minutes with an error of five minutes, the transformer burned down, and our experience was successful,” Zaurenbek said.

According to him, the research is applied at the first stage in the laboratory. The team plans to use the equipment on real transformers.

The young team worked on the project for more than a year. The launch of the device is scheduled for the summer of 2018.



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Kazakhstan reconstructs 1,300 kilometres of highways in two years


ASTANA – Kazakhstan saw 1,300 kilometres of highways reconstructed in 2015-2016 within the nation’s large-scale Nurly Zhol programme. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the programme in his annual state-of-the-nation address in 2014.

“Movement on Western Europe-Western China transit corridor, Astana-Temirtau, Almaty-Kapshagai, Kapshagai-Balpyk Bi, Beineu-Shetpe and Kokshetau-Petropavlovsk highways was fully opened. The construction of the Central Asia’s longest 12-kilometre bridge crossing in Pavlodar spanning the Irtysh River was finished as well,” said Highways Committee Chair Mereke Pshembayev during the Dec. 25 press briefing.

Pshembayev noted 1,300 kilometre of national highways were renovated as part of the Nurly Zhol programme, a large-scale economic and development project that seeks turning Kazakhstan into a transport and logistics hub of Eurasia through modernisation of transport infrastructure, among other objectives.

Construction works continue on Temirtau-Karaganda, Astana-Pavlodar-Semei-Kalbatau, Beineu-Aktau, Aktobe-Atyrau, Kapshagai-Taldykorgan, Astana-Petropavlovsk and the Uralsk-Kamenka highways, he said.

The committee chair noted Kazakhstan plans to implement 12 more projects involving highways with a total length of more than 3,000 kilometres with leading foreign financial institutes to further boost the nation’s transport potential and economic growth of its regions.

Other plans envisioned by the programme also include the introduction of toll charges along 6,500 kilometres of the renovated highways by 2020, said Pshembayev, with the expected capacity to generate nearly 30 billion tenge (US$90.3 million) annually by 2020.

“In general, based on the results of the work that we have done so far, we plan to improve 90 percent of the national highways and increase the share of roads rated as first and second technical category to 50 percent. It will allow for a two-fold increase in the capacity of high traffic roads and freight traffic and 1.5-fold reduction in the time spent on the road,” he added.



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Kazakh government approves draft law on foreign currency transactions control


ASTANA – The Kazakh government approved Dec. 26 the nation’s draft law on foreign currency transactions control during its weekly meeting.

National Bank Chair Daniyar Akishev noted changes in foreign currency legislation were planned in line with the requirements entailed by Kazakhstan’s membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), establishment of the Khorgos international border cooperation centre and Astana International Financial Centre.

“The key goal of the draft law is expanding the scope of statistical monitoring of foreign currency transactions and reducing the domestic use of foreign currency. The implementation of these norms will enrich the data about foreign currency operations, improve the efficiency of currency control, including the efforts to prevent flow of money out of the country,” said Akishev.

The changes include recognising offices of international organisations as residents, expanding the scope of cross border foreign currency transactions, tightening control in foreign currency operations involving capital outflow, clarifying the circulation of currency values in Kazakhstan and the list of transactions allowed between residents.

Akishev said the draft maintains commitment to the principles of liberal foreign currency regime.

The increase in the amount of the data submitted to the nation’s financial regulator is accompanied by decreasing amount of administrative reporting and subsequently the resources allotted to that.

“There is no tightening of control. It was planned and it has nothing to do with the tightening of conditions,” he added.

With Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO, more branches and representative offices are expected to come to Kazakhstan, and according to Akishev, this could entail the increase in foreign currency transactions, which goes opposite to the national interests.

The draft law, therefore, envisions obliging branches of international organisations to conduct transactions with local contractors in tenge.

“The draft law will come into a full effect July 1, 2019,” said Akishev.



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Mining companies in Kostanai region boost digital technology use


ASTANA – Large mining enterprises in the Kostanai region have developed and implemented roadmaps for technological modernisation under Kazakhstan’s third modernisation programme. Investments in projects executed by companies through 2025 will total 92.7 billion tenge (US$276.2 million).

The roadmaps are in use by SSGPO, Kostanai Minerals and Varvarinskoye. Regional deputy akim (governor) Meirzhan Myrzaliyev spoke about the ways each enterprise plans to introduce the new technologies and modernise their operations during the regional administration meeting, reported Kazinform.

SSGPO has taken the first steps in the updating process. During the Dec. 6 nationwide TV broadcast, the Smart Career system was launched at Kachar quarry with the participation of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Using the system, the company plans to increase mining equipment productivity by 10 percent. Increases are expected as well in movement speed and equipment distribution.

The company also plans to implement cycle-flow technology in the quarry’s career programme, a project planned for 2017-2021, and a new factory complex to be launched in 2018-2023.

“The construction of the factory complex will increase the volume of mining of iron ore at the Kachar quarry by 50 percent, which will give an additional two million tonnes of finished products per year. At the same time, the productivity of one section of the concentrator will increase 3.5 times. There is a need to invest 92.1 billion tenge (US$274.4 million). The construction of a new factory complex involves the creation of an additional 250 jobs,” said Myrzaliyev.

Kostanai Minerals plans to modernise the enrichment complex by transitioning to a one-stage enrichment scheme and introducing an automated system to monitor and control technological equipment. Plans are also underway to automate the concentrating plant. The company will be buying drum classifiers, which will allow controlling the fractional composition of the finished product and improve the performance of high chrysotile grades.

“In the next year, we plan to introduce a digital system for the registration of technical inspections and equipment repairs, which will allow us to visualise the technical condition of the mechanisms. Also, we plan to develop a system for accumulating information on the quality of blasting operations,” said Kostanai Minerals chairperson Yerbol Nurkhozhayev.

The company has implemented approximately 200 projects from 2012-2017 and invested more than two billion tenge (US$6 million). The investments helped the company receive an economic boost of 4.7 billion tenge (US$14 million). In the near future, more than 100 large projects with investments is excess of 2.5 billion tenge (US$7.5 million) and total efficiency reaching at least 4.3 billion tenge (US$12.8 million) are planned.

Varvarinskoye expects to build a crushing and screening complex at the gold extraction and processing plant and install additional equipment for SART + AVR detoxification. Construction of a tailing pond is also anticipated.



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