Kazakh President flies to Arys after deadly explosion at weapons depot, pledges full support to residents and restoration of town

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev visited the town of Arys June 24 shortly after an explosion at an ammunition depot on the same day killed two, injured dozens and resulted in the evacuation of tens of thousands of city residents.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

The explosion occurred on a military base just outside of Arys. The explosion sent debris flying, which damaged nearby private property and ignited additional fires nearby. No additional explosions have been reported in the city itself, but all 44,000 residents were evacuated as a precaution. At press time, no cause for the explosion has been determined and no date had been announced for the return of the evacuated residents.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

The President instructed during his visit the ministers of defence and internal affairs to work with local authorities to extinguish the remaining fires at and near the depot.

The explosion and resulting fires at the depot began at 9:20 a.m. June 24 near the town of Arys, approximately 100 kilometres from Shymkent, and continued through mid-day June 25, reports the Kazakh Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Emergency Situations Committee. Approximately 44,000 people in Arys were evacuated by 51 emergency crews, 75 special vehicles and 105 vehicle units.

A state of emergency in the region was declared by Turkestan Region Akim (Governor) Umirzak Shukeyev immediately after the explosions began.

“A criminal investigation on the incident was opened. The perpetrators will be prosecuted under the law,” the President wrote in an early morning tweet on June 25 after attending a meeting on addressing the aftermath of the explosions, visiting an evacuation point and surveying the town and people’s temporary accommodation.

Arys will be cleared of all explosive devices, said Tokayev during his visit to the evacuation point while pledging his and the Government’s full support to the residents and the town.

The Kazakh Ministry of Defence has also formed a commission to investigate the cause of the explosions.

A working group headed by Shukeyev and headquartered at the Zhambyl School in Arys includes the region’s healthcare department, prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies. Shukeyev also visited a kindergarten, hospital, police department and residential buildings June 24 to assess the situation.

Tokayev instructed a governmental commission to assess the damage caused to housing, social facilities and critical infrastructure, said Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin at a June 25 government meeting.

No reports were available at press time concerning exactly how many private homes near the depot were damaged or the extent of damage to other government facilities and infrastructure near the depot. Vladimir Bekker, Chairman of the Emergency Situations Committee, announced however that out of 7,600 houses in the town, approximately 80-90 percent sustained damage of one degree or another, ranging mostly from shattered glass to more serious damage to roofs.

“All citizens of our country are concerned about the state of the inhabitants of Arys and are providing all possible assistance. I urge everyone to support the initiative of the Nur Otan Party to raise funds to assist people in Arys,” Mamin said.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

Two people died from the explosions at the depot.

“Unfortunately, one civilian (from Arys) and one soldier (from a military unit) are dead. I express my sincere condolences to their families and friends,” he noted.

The Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare reported June 25 that 165 people received medical assistance. Among the 89 people that were hospitalised, there were five mothers, 13 pregnant women and 18 children, and 37 and 52 people were from the Turkestan Region and Shymkent, respectively.

“The Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare and local authorities are making every possible effort to provide the necessary medical care to victims of the emergency situation,” the ministry’s press service stated.

The Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare dispatched additional doctors, neurosurgeons, neurologists and resuscitation specialists to the hospitals. Two air ambulances and 22 regular ambulances of Arys, Kentau, Shymkent and Turkestan were also mobilised to provide emergency medical care.

Children who went missing amid the evacuations were gathered in the Taukekhan High School, and their photos were distributed on the Turkestan Region Akimat’s (administration) official website, Turkestan Region Akim Advisor Saken Kalkamanov wrote in a June 24 Facebook post.

“Our people are known for being ready to support each other in difficult times,” Pavlodar Region Akim Bolat Bakauov wrote in a June 24 Instagram post.

“When an emergency situation occurred in Arys in the Turkestan Region, we cannot stand aside because this is a common tragedy among all people in Kazakhstan. The Pavlodar Region is ready to accept 300 children from Arys to their summer camps and take care of them. #АрысБiзБiргемiз,” he wrote, using the hashtag meaning We Are United with Arys.

Throughout the day on June 25, both President Tokayev and First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, as well as numerous government institutions ranging from the Presidential Administration, the Senate and the Majilis of the Parliament to the ministries of foreign affairs, culture and sports and others announced they were transferring their one-day salaries to help the victims of the explosions in Arys.



Indian investors to build ski resort, noodle factory in Turkestan Region

NUR-SULTAN – Chaudhary Group (CG Global) is planning to build a ski resort, instant noodle factory and food park in the Turkestan Region. The Indian company intends to attract Spanish and Swiss specialists to assist with the ski resort.


Meirzhan Myrzaliyev, the region’s deputy akim (governor), met in Almaty with CG Global board chair Binod Chaudhary and executive director Varun Chaudhary to present a number of projects and speak in detail about Turkestan’s investment opportunities and socio-economic development. Representatives of Kazakh Invest and Kazakh Ambassador in India Bulat Sarsenbayev also attended the meeting.

Myrzaliyev and company representatives discussed the particulars of the upcoming visit to the Turkestan region, particularly to the Kazygurt district industrial zone. As part of the trip, the investors will familiarise themselves with construction of the instant noodle factory.

The $15-million project is scheduled to launch July 1. The CG Global anticipates exporting products  to neighbouring countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

The Turkestan administration plans to build 19 ski slopes and modern cable chairlifts. The equipment will be certified for major international competitions.

The city of Turkestan received a regional centre status a year ago and it has made many changes. The local government is building an airport, stadium, parks and museums. Plans are underway in the coming months to operate 44 multi-storey houses. New apartments will be available through the 7-20-25 programme, reported 24.kz.

To attract tourists, the local government intends to repair existing historical monuments and build new attractions such as an Eastern Bazaar and pilgrimage centre.



Karaganda Region to launch compulsory health insurance pilot project this fall

NUR-SULTAN – Karaganda Region will launch a pilot project on compulsory social health insurance from September. The pilot will test practices for providing services, identifying insurance status and accounting.

Yelzhan Birtanov

A new model of guaranteed free healthcare was developed for the compulsory social health insurance system in 2018. It will take effect January 1.

Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov described the three-tier system of healthcare support that had been developed at a June 18 meeting. The first level of the system ensures social health insurance paid for by the state for all citizens and permanently residing foreigners. It includes free primary healthcare, ambulance and air ambulance transport, emergency hospital care and a full range of care for socially significant diseases and chronic diseases, including the provision of medication.

The second level of the system provides additional services such as counselling, diagnoses, planned inpatient care and medication for a wide range of diseases, hospital replacement care and rehabilitation treatment.

The third level includes services not provided through the guaranteed free healthcare and compulsory social health insurance system. These services are chargeable or covered by voluntary insurance.

“The healthcare packages were developed in detail by experts and agreed to by regional healthcare departments, government bodies and the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs. The projects are approved by the public council of the Ministry of Healthcare,” said Birtanov.

The ministry and local executive bodies are implementing a plan of measures to improve the quality and accessibility of primary healthcare and social care (PHC) for 2019 to 2020.

Some 18.7 million people are registered at primary health care organisations. Some 785,000 people, or more than 4 percent of the population, are not registered.

From 2020, the compulsory social health insurance system is expected to cover 94.5 percent of the population.

“According to our forecasts, the number of independent payers will be about one million people, including 770,000 self-employed people,” he said.

The insurance system will increase the provision of healthcare for socially vulnerable groups. Eight socially vulnerable categories, including children, pregnant women, mothers of many children, retired people and others, were identified. It is expected that approximately 10.9 million socially vulnerable people will receive social health insurance.

Some services will be expanded as part of the compulsory social health insurance. Funding for diagnostic services will triple; funding for dental services will more than double.

“We have developed a regulatory base. Now we are conducting explanatory work. We also deal with automation processes, equipment and digitisation of the healthcare sector. We expect a visible effect on the availability and quality of healthcare for the population,” he said.

The ministry’s information systems will be integrated with the information systems of government agencies and service providers and the availability of service providers will be automated by October. The ministry will conclude contracts with providers of insurance services by 2020.

The government is working on a healthcare development state programme for 2025. Prime Minister Askar Mamin tasked the government with equipping regional healthcare organisations with computers, internet access and information systems. The positive trend is observed in the Atyrau, Mangistau and Pavlodar regions.

“We have a task to increase the availability and quality of healthcare services,” he said.

It is necessary to raise awareness about the guaranteed free healthcare and insurance system among people.



Kazakhstan holds free digital literacy courses

NUR-SULTAN – The Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry and Zerde Holding, the national information and communication technology (ICT) company, have launched digital literacy training programmes throughout the regions.

The courses will develop human capital as part of the Digital Kazakhstan state programme, which includes achieving 80 percent digital literacy in the country. To reach the goal, 468,000 people must be trained in digital competencies, which include basic digital skills, information security, e-commerce and e-government.

The first courses have been held in the last 12 months. More than 686,000 people were instructed in basic digital skills and the digital literacy rate for the year reached 79.6 percent.

This year, training will be centred on developing basic digital skills, including confident use of a personal computer or laptop, mobile devices, the Internet, security and data protection. The courses will cover e-government skills such as obtaining necessary electronic government services online.

The skills necessary to use Open Government, including its four components – open data, open regulations, open dialogue and budgets – are obligatory under the programme, according to the ministry.

The courses will stress e-commerce skills to acquire, sell and promote products and services online. Information security, including protecting personal data, personal computers, tablets, smartphones and Internet use will be part of the class.

Specialists from Zerde Holding, Government for Citizens, the National Information Technologies Centre and Kazpost conducted training in April and May for IT experts in all regions. The professionals will subsequently train the population.

Training courses will be provided free of charge for all who wish to increase their skill level. Classes began June 17 in schools and libraries in regional centres, villages and towns. Dates and venues are available on local executive body websites and the Digital Literacy section of Digital Kazakhstan.



Uralsk hopes technopark projects will improve quality of life, transparency in state services

NUR-SULTAN – The IT HUB technopark opened in Uralsk, West Kazakhstan Region, June 7, as a part of the nationwide Digital Kazakhstan programme. The technopark is intended to create opportunities for young people to implement their ideas for service optimisation, thereby improving the region’s economy and quality of life.

West Kazakhstan Region Akim (Governor) Altai Kulginov. Photo credit: bko.gov.kz.

“Our goal is to create a single ecosystem within two years. The IT HUB should become a kind of driver for the development of innovation in our field. At the technopark site, three large participants are the state, business and society. Society creates demand, the state sets goals and objectives, business implements things to make the quality of life better,” said IT association representative Igor Kochetkov.

The state will support projects at the technopark by providing a workplace on preferential terms, offering project support and free consultations by information technology experts and state bodies, and organising presentations to potential investors, the IT HUB’S Digitisation Department reports.

Photo credit: bko.gov.kz.

One of the buyers of IT HUB projects will be the West Kazakhstan Region’s akimat (administration). The akimat is interested in optimising the costs of cybersecurity for its state office equipment, websites, networks and software, said West Kazakhstan First Deputy Akim (Governor) Gali Iskaliyev (who has since been appointed to the position of the governor).

“The task to modernise and improve [services] was set last year. Our ultimate goal is for a consumer to receive quality services from the state, and, most importantly, on time,” said the then West Kazakhstan Region Akim (Governor) Altai Kulginov. (On June 13, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed Kulginov the Akim (Mayor) of the capital city of Nur-Sultan.)

Local companies presented projects such as a smart office that is three times cheaper than other versions, an Internet of Things for the housing and utilities sector that can reduce residents’ utilities payments by 20 percent, and a high school start-up, the Mojidet project, a system that analyses the quality of public services through people’s emotions.

Nazarbayev Intellectual School students presenting their Mojidet project. Photo credit: bko.gov.kz.

There are more than 140 digitisation projects working to optimise services in West Kazakhstan.

The healthcare system was among the first in the region to be digitised. As of today, all urban hospitals have introduced electronic queues, which control the flow of patients and have reduced waiting times from 30 to 15 minutes.

Uralsk residents’ new electronic health passports have eliminated repeated tests and increased patient examination times from five minutes to 15 minutes. Ambulance crews are equipped with tablets and GPS navigators.

Projects also address housing, especially the regular complaints about the work of home owners cooperatives (KSKs) that provide maintenance services. The most common complaint is that KSK is paid every month but residents are offered no proof or evidence of their work. Now, all reports are published online. Digitisation has also eliminated many violations and mistakes that KSKs could not control.

“Before, everyone had a house book that kept all the records. There were cases when two people were living in an apartment, but [the house book] registered 20 people. [Then] there comes a bill for water for all 20 people… now there is no such thing, it’s all online. We are very pleased with such projects,” said Kulginov.

The enrolment priority service in kindergartens has also been automated. The shortage of places in local kindergartens had created long queues of parents waiting to enrol their children, and created opportunities for corruption among those managing non-digital waiting lists. The new electronic system is more transparent.



Fathers discuss family, children and responsibilities at UN-sponsored event in Nur-Sultan

NUR-SULTAN – The UN Population Fund, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women invited fathers working in the media, civil society, international development and advocacy to discuss fatherhood challenges. The dads shared their experiences and life hacks in overcoming challenges, being active in their children’s lives and contributing to household work.

Photo credit: UNICEF.

“It is widely recognised that involving fathers in the upbringing of children and childcare doesn’t only positively influence the overall development of a child, but also makes stronger families by promoting an equal division of domestic responsibilities between spouses,” said UN Resident Coordinator Norimasa Shimomura.

Kazakhstan adopted a Family and Gender Policy in 2016 to promote equally shared family responsibilities, including childcare and household duties, yet only 6.6 percent of Kazakh fathers are involved in childcare and raising their children under five. Globally, men spend more and more time with children and participate in household work, but progress is slow. From 1997-2012, the gender gap in time spent on unpaid care decreased only seven minutes per day.

“This is unfortunate, not only because it leaves too large a share of the childcare task to mothers, but also because children and fathers themselves miss out on so much if they do not take a big part in raising their children,” said Shimomura.

The inequalities continue even when women work equal hours outside the home. In Kazakhstan, women’s labour force participation is 66 percent, just 11 percent less than men. At the same time, women on average spend approximately twice as much time compared to men on household work and childcare.

The fathers shared stories of parenting on the eve of Father’s Day, an international celebration of fatherhood in more than 80 countries.

Photo credit: UNICEF.

Founder of Autism, Accessible Environment and Vice Chairperson of Kazakhstan’s Fathers’ Union Ruslan Kazybayev spoke about his journey to becoming an involved dad. His son was diagnosed with autism at age four and the family struggles each day with his condition. Kazybayev noted many Kazakh men often leave families with ill children and even blame their wives for the illnesses.

“We tend to think that fathers are there to provide financially for their family and to discipline a child if they misbehave. Being an involved father is about being a partner to your wife, being a friend to your child and sharing the family responsibilities,” he said.

Kazybayev established the foundation to create an enabling environment for children with special needs. Its mission is to make involved and responsible fatherhood the new norm in society.

Lawyer and social media influencer Medet Usserov is divorced and raises his two sons. Thanks to the agreement with his wife, they are able to care for their children together, but this is not a common situation in the country. Many Kazakh men are either unable to reach agreements with their ex-wives or uninterested in doing so.

“You can divorce your wife, but you can’t divorce your children,” he said at the event.

Usserov contributes to changing the social behaviour of Kazakh fathers by providing consultations for families. He advises men to take part in household responsibilities and spend as much time with their children as possible even after a divorce. In his opinion, that is when children need their father’s attention even more.



Kazakh Healthcare Ministry to set price ceilings for medicine in July

NUR-SULTAN – The Kazakh Ministry of Healthcare will set price ceilings for wholesale and retail drugs in July, reports Primeminister.kz.

Lyudmila Byurabekova. Photo credit: primeminister.kz.

“Price regulation rules were developed, an order was formed for the maximum wholesale and retail prices according to the procedure established by the legislation and prices will be approved in July,” said Ministry of Healthcare’s Committee for Quality Control and Safety of Goods and Services Chairperson Lyudmila Byurabekova.

The aim of state price regulation is to ensure uniform pricing mechanisms for medicine in the wholesale and retail sector, regardless of the region. In this way, medicine will be much more affordable to the wider population. The law will also regulate seasonal price fluctuations, as prices will be set twice a year in January and July.

“Prices may be lower than the established price ceiling, but not higher. There will be a price ceiling for each brand name of the drug, and the cost will be the same regardless of the region of the country,” she emphasised.

Fines of $460-$6,581 and a pharmaceutical licence suspension will be applied to those violating price regulation rules.

Byurabekova emphasised that price regulation will not affect the quality of medicine. Upon registration in Kazakhstan, companies must present documents confirming their products’ safety and quality.

“Price and quality are two criteria that are always taken into account. An expert organisation, the National Centre on Medicinal Product Evaluation, is responsible for product quality… If a drug is registered in Kazakhstan, then its safety and quality is confirmed,” she said in an online Primeminister.kz conference in January.

To accompany the new law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts on the Circulation of Medicinal Products and Medical Devices,” the National Centre on Medicinal Product Evaluation developed a mobile application that provides users with information on a given medicinal product, such as its price and whether it passed a safety and quality assessment. Users may also provide feedback on price hikes.

“If a person sees that the price is higher than indicated on the mobile application, he or she will be able to take a photo and send an immediate appeal that the price is too high at the given pharmacy. In addition, all prices will be posted on the online resources of the Ministry of Healthcare, the Pharmacy Committee and the Drug Evaluation Centre,” explained Byurabekova.



PRI seeks to help Kazakhstan reform criminal justice system, prevent torture

NUR-SULTAN – Penal Reform International (PRI) is seeking to assist Kazakhstan in reforming its penal system, step up efforts to prevent torture and update detention facilities in line with international standards, said PRI Central Asia Director Azamat Shambilov.

Photo credit: inform.kz.

The organisation has been working for 30 years across 90 countries worldwide.  

“There was one person, Ahmed Othmani, who was a former prisoner. He had been in prison for 12 years. He was sentenced due to his political views. Amnesty International gave him the status of a prisoner of conscience. When he was released, he started to work at Amnesty International fighting for human rights. There he met a woman, Vivien Stern, who has been working at AmnestyInternational for many years. They were visiting prisons to protect the rights of prisoners,” Shambilov told The Astana Times.

Azamat Shambilov. Photo credit: PRI Facebook page.

A group of criminal justice and human rights activists founded the organisation in 1989 to ensure fair and effective criminal justice system, build a dialogue with the state and address the rights of suspects, offenders and prisoners.

PRI has worked in Kazakhstan since 1998, after the country invited the organisation to assist in reforming its criminal justice and penal systems.

“At the time, when the capital was moving [from Almaty to the then Akmola], international organisations were opening their offices in Kazakhstan and PRI for the first time came to Kazakhstan and started working for a pilot project in Pavlodar prison. They were visiting prisons and carrying out different projects, including in healthcare. If you remember, in the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s, many people were dying from tuberculosis in society and, of course, in prisons. There was a big stigma that prisoners were likely to have tuberculosis,” said Shambilov.

The efforts produced positive results.

“Today, the death rate from tuberculosis has significantly declined and this is a big achievement both for our organisation and the state. There would have been no result if not for our cooperation,” he added.

The achievements in Kazakhstan are significant. PRI works across five areas – promoting international standards in national legislations, introducing alternatives to imprisonment, abolishing the death penalty or maintaining a moratorium on it, decreasing the prison population and training personnel.

“We have done a lot in the first area. The convention (UN Convention against Torture) was ratified, but significant efforts have also been done to ratify the faculty protocol. Many countries ratify the convention, but few ratify the protocol, because it obliges a country to set up a mechanism to monitor prisons, allowing civil society to monitor them. Kazakhstan agreed to that,” he said.

Public monitoring commissions have been working in Kazakhstan since 2005.

“Kazakhstan was the first country in the post-Soviet space that allowed human rights workers in prisons to examine them. In those years, of course, prisons were in terrible condition. It was hardly possible to ensure basic standards for prisoners. They visit prisons, inspect them, evaluate the situation with the human rights of prisoners, evaluate their conditions there, talk to them and receive complaints. They compile a comprehensive report,” he said.

Another achievement was creating a national preventive mechanism in 2014 to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

National preventative mechanism (NPM) members include independent experts and civil society representatives who have the right to meet detainees in private and receive complaints. In 2018, they made 461 preventive visits, including to 118 temporary detention centres, 33 pre-trial detention centres, 90 correctional institutions, 26 remand houses, 24 special reception centres, 15 adaptation centres for minors and eight special educational institutions.

In December, the coordination council elected 109 NPM members for 2019-2020.

PRI has also been working to humanise criminal legislation. The work had two stages, said Shambilov.

“The first took place approximately from 1996 until the 2000s, when the new codes were adopted. This is, of course, with the involvement of the state. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, countries started writing their own codes; of course, they were very similar to the Soviet ones, because these countries had no other example to follow. They did not trust the West then, because the Soviet Union leaves its trace and humanisation of criminal legislation has been discussed since around 2005,” he said.

The term of torture was legally defined for the first time.

“Prevention of torture has remained an acute issue in Kazakhstan for many years. The issue is now more spread due to social networks that are more accessible today. There is a range of amendments in this area. Between 2016-2018, 13 law enforcement and penal system workers have been convicted of torture. The punishment is severe, because punishment for torture is equal to that for murder,” he added.

Among the changes is a moratorium on the death penalty put in force in 2003.

“Our organisation has done a big job, surveying all prisoners on life sentences, surveying all other prisoners on what they would have done if they were sentenced to the death penalty, system workers and citizens,” he said.

Shambilov also emphasised probation service, another “progressive mechanism” that was introduced in Kazakhstan in 2012.

“Kazakhstan steadily started to understand that people can be sent to community service in some cases. I remember our first training on probation service. I had no idea where I would take experts. I visited Karaganda and East Kazakhstan Regions and penal system workers themselves had no clue who we were, what we were doing,” he said.

More than 60,000 people are currently on probation service and the prison population has declined from 100,000 in 1990s to 31,000.

Helping former prisoners integrate back into society is among the key goals countries need to achieve.

“I have been personally dealing with this issue since 2012 and raising the issue of re-socialisation of former prisoners. These people need to be met. I was visiting all akimats, but they were kicking me off, saying they are not dealing with prisoners or human rights and sending me to other agencies. I was showing them the document that clearly defined their responsibility. They have not done anything for two years,” he said.

Kazakhstan recently hosted its first penal reform forum gathering government, penal system and civil society representatives to facilitate discussion on penal reforms in the country and the region, signalling a huge step forward in fostering efficient dialogue between civil society and the government.

“We set up a working group on penal system reform. We will examine the current situation. We may need to conduct an audit of prisons across all regions to make a comprehensive mapping where we will identify all problems and to what extent they pertain to other regions. We will conduct a situation analysis on separate areas,” said Shambilov.



Kazakh President immediately begins focus on improved civil services, fight against corruption with new agencies

NUR-SULTAN – Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev divided June 13 the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption into separate state bodies. Both bodies will be subordinate to the president. The change took effect immediately.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

The Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Anti-Corruption was renamed the Agency for Civil Service Affairs. It will oversee the quality of public services. The former Agency’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau was transformed into a standalone Anti-Corruption Agency (Anti-Corruption Service). Both bodies will be accountable to the president, according to the Akorda press service.

The anti-corruption service is now a law enforcement agency engaged in the detection, suppression, disclosure and investigation of corrupt criminal offenses.

The Presidential Administration, in coordination with the Security Council staff, is instructed to submit draft regulations on agencies for consideration by the head of state and the heads of the two new state bodies within a month. Proposals for the redistribution of staff will also be considered. The decree comes into effect from the date of signing.



Kazakhstan inaugurates newly elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev

NUR-SULTAN – The inauguration of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev took place June 12 at the Palace of Independence in the capital. Tokayev swore an oath to the people of the country and officially assumed the office of President, emphasising he will continue developing and implementing founding and First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s vision of the country’s development and social and economic reforms.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

“I solemnly swear to faithfully serve the people of Kazakhstan, strictly follow the Constitution and the laws of Kazakhstan, guarantee the rights and freedoms of citizens, conscientiously perform the high duties of the President of Kazakhstan entrusted to me,” said Tokayev, putting his right hand on the Kazakh Constitution.

After receiving a presidential certificate from Central Election Commission Chair Berik Imashev, Tokayev addressed the gathering of more than 2,500 people including members of the Government, the diplomatic corps and the many Nur Otan party members who worked on his campaign. He gave a speech elaborating on the plans and aims he put before Kazakhstan.

The President emphasised he will follow the strategies developed by Nazarbayev, such as the Third Modernisation, 100 Concrete Steps to Implement Five Institutional Reforms and Digital Kazakhstan programme.

“A large-scale task in the realities of the 21st century is digitisation. It should affect all spheres of life: from the provision of public services to the creation of future economy sectors. The country’s development, including political progress, is directly related to digitisation. It will qualitatively change the content of relations between the state and society,” he said.

“For the country to reach a new level of sustainable development, new approaches and new solutions are needed. They will soon be made public,” he added.

The President plans to address acute social problems and provide assistance to those most in need.

“We need to seriously update our social policy,” he said.

He also plans to support Kazakh business people, attract and protect investments, stimulate business activity and create a middle class.

Tokayev emphasised that nowadays economy and social order change fast, thus, “Kazakhstan faces new challenges and threats.”

“In the next few years, the main question of our time will be solved: which countries will be able to integrate into progress, and who will be on the sidelines of world development? Economic, social and political progress is our only correct answer to the challenges of our time,” said the President.

Photo credit: akorda.kz.

Kazakhstan’s people are “greatly worried about the development of a dialogue between the government and society,” thus, the President plans to create a National Council of Public Trust and give attention to civil society development.

“The dialogue should be based on the recognition of pluralism of opinions. Different opinions, but one nation. Here is the main landmark… The Council will include representatives of the whole society, including young people,” said Tokayev.

“The authorities are obliged to hear the requests of people, solve problems on the ground, and regularly report to the citizens. Do not promise, but deliver! Such a rule should be followed by all members of the government and akims (governors and mayors)… When making decisions on strategic issues, the position of the majority of the population will certainly be taken into account,” he added.

The first meeting of the National Council will be in August.

Among other issues, the President also mentioned the environment, for which a new environmental code is developing, as well as water supply and road quality.

“Clean drinking water is a must in every home, every family,” he said.

The President spoke about his campaign platform’s implementation plan in ten directions. The first direction is to increase population’s income.

“The destabilisation of international financial markets and devaluation of the tenge negatively affected the income of the population. More than a million citizens were forced to take a loan from the bank. The gap between the wealthy and the low-income citizens is one of the most pressing problems our society is facing. Of course, such phenomena exist all over the world, but we cannot ignore them,” he said. “Citizens need to have economic growth in their own country to live in peace, to work hard, to bring up their children, and to be proud of our nation’s accomplishments.”

The second direction is to eliminate corruption.

“Corruption is a disease that hinders the states’ development. A phenomenon threatens the mutual trust in society and the security of our nation as a whole,” he noted.

The third direction is to reform the judicial system and law enforcement.

“Judge is a guarantee of rule of law. Therefore, judges must meet high professional and moral requirements… It is necessary to tighten the judges and candidates appraisal and evaluation system. The main task of the law enforcement system is to gain public confidence,” said Tokayev.

The fourth direction is to open new jobs and provide people with decent wages. Fair distribution of national income is “strategically important.”

The fifth direction is to create affordable housing for different categories of citizens.

The sixth direction is to improve social policies and continue pursuing human capital development policies that includes mass education support, qualitative medical care for all residents and adoption of new laws that enhance the status of teachers and doctors.

The seventh direction is to develop regions according to “the Strong Regions – Strong Kazakhstan principle” strengthening local government system.

The eighth direction is to continue developing the Rukhani Zhangyru programme’s (Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s Identity) values.

“Respect for history, loyalty to the Motherland, aspiration to science and education – all these are the noble qualities of our people,” said the President.

The ninth direction is “to continue a constructive, balanced, multi-vector foreign policy course.”

“Kazakhstan has won great prestige in the world, has established itself as a peace-loving, open country, reliable and responsible partner in international affairs,” noted Tokayev.

The tenth direction is to support youth “creating opportunities to make true (their) biggest dream and personal success story.”

“Elbasy declared 2019 the Year of Youth. The Zhastar – El Tіregі project began to work. We are implementing the Zhas kasіpker programme for the development of youth business initiatives. We will support youth start-ups and implement youth employment programmes. To promote young talented managers to all levels of public service, a Presidential talent pool will be formed,” said the President.

“Being faithful to the oath and firm commitment to the obligation is my duty to the people. For the bright future of Kazakhstan, I promise to work hard for the people,” said Tokayev concluding his address.