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KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 -- Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kazakhstan’s economy dropped by only 2.6 per cent – compared to the 7 per cent reduction among advanced economies last year.
According to a report in The Astana Times, made available to Bernama by the Kazakhstan Embassy in Malaysia, it was a substantial decline compared to the 4 per cent growth in 2019 but it was not as severe as in other countries.
“Thanks to the measures implemented by the Kazakhstan government, the nation expects a decent GDP growth of at least 3.2 per cent in 2021,” it said.
Published on Wednesday in conjunction with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s two-year administration, the report pointed out that the fiscal reforms introduced over the past year have contributed to a sturdier foundation for the Kazakh economy.
For example, it said measures have been implemented to improve taxation and use of land.
“Micro and small business entities have been exempted from paying taxes, and a three-year ban on their inspections by authorised state bodies has been introduced. The execution of tax obligations has been simplified, including through digitalisation,” it said.
To further enhance the private sector, the Agency for Protection and Development of Competition has been created, while the Financial Monitoring Agency has been established to fight against the shadow economy, with the aim of reducing its level to 15 per cent by 2025.
Over the last 12 months, Tokayev has also made it a priority to reform the system of investment attraction and support, and in this regard, a task force team has been created to provide end-to-end support to investors.
According to the report, these and other economic initiatives helped keep the Central Asian nation’s economy afloat during a turbulent 2020 and should contribute to a faster growth rate going forward.
“The fact that Kazakhstan managed to keep its economy relatively resilient and resistant to external threats means that the country was able to introduce and implement an extensive list of political reforms – arguably the flagship of Tokayev’s second year as president,” it said.
For example, a new law on assemblies has made it easier to organise and participate in rallies and a 30 per cent quota for women and youth representatives on electoral party lists has been implemented to widen participation in politics.
To promote parliamentarism and encourage political pluralism, the report stated that the number of members required for the establishment of political parties has been reduced by half, and the threshold for political parties to gain seats in the lower house of parliament has recently been lowered from 7 per cent to 5 per cent.
“As President Tokayev noted, these reforms are aimed at promoting the protection of human rights, as well as political plurality and competition in Kazakhstan. The journey towards further democratisation began following the 2019 presidential election, and its pace increased during the second year of Tokayev’s presidency,” it said.
On June 9, 2021, Tokayev also signed a decree in the field of human rights which aims to improve the mechanisms of interaction with the United Nations bodies including the UN Human Rights Council to ensure the rights of the human trafficking victims; to improve the human rights of the disabled people; the elimination of discrimination against women; the right to freedom of association; freedom of speech; enforcement and prevention of torture and others.*
In handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokayev introduced a state of emergency in Kazakhstan in March last year, which included strict quarantine measures.
To support the population during this period, according to government data, more than 4.5 million people received financial benefits, and more than 700,000 companies and entrepreneurs were supported through tax exemptions.
“Approximately 2 million people received a loan deferral. These measures helped to support those most in need, as well as small and medium private businesses,” the report said.
Going forward, the report highlighted that the priority for Kazakhstan’s government will be to prevent another COVID-19 wave and to ensure economic growth and further rise in living standards of its citizens.
To achieve the former, large-scale vaccination of the population has been launched throughout the country, mainly with the Russian-made vaccine “Sputnik V” and the Kazakhstan vaccine “QazVac”, which was registered by the World Health Organisation as a candidate vaccine in May last year.
Sinopharm’s UAE-produced Hayat-Vax and CoronaVac developed by Chinese companies have recently joined the pool.
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