By Kamila Aliyeva
An expanded meeting chaired by the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, considered traditional and held annually, took place in the government on February 9, Kazinform reported.
The meeting is dedicated to the key directions of the social and economic development of the country for 2017.
The results of the year were summed up in the fields of economy and finance, investment and industry, energy, employment, health, education, agriculture, religion, culture and sport.
Nazarbayev gave a positive assessment of the work of the government for the last year.
“We should start the year with setting our goals and asking each other different questions. Today we are having the enlarged session so that we begin this big work. We have governors of regions here. As you know in January we sat here to sum up the results of the last year. 2017 was not an easy year for us. The world economy was unstable. We had different situations in our country. However owing to the work which the government did together with regional administrations we had a positive outcome. Four percent of economic growth and keeping inflation at 7 percent is a new achievement for us. Therefore I should praise each member of the government,” he said.
The Kazakh president also recalled that there are still problems to overcome.
“We have many tasks ahead. There are problems in execution of the program. Therefore today we must communicate the results of the last year to the people and set our future goals. The 4 percent task is not enough. There are always risks to go below. Therefore we should target higher. As for the program execution, we are going to work on them,” he said.
Nazarbayev pointed out the special role of tax collection system using blockchain technology.
“Astana-1 is very important. To reduce time from 1.5 hours to 5 minutes will be a better result than that of the OECD. We should use blockchain in this to ensure efficient control. As many as 15-25 percent fiscal performance is important for the Finance Ministry,” he said.
During the meeting, Kazakh Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov informed that in August 2018 there will be presented the prototype of the new VAT collection system using blockchain technology.
“Together with the World Bank we are developing goods tracking information system, it will allow to close the complete chain of monitoring to the value added chain from the border (manufacturer) to the end user,” he said.
Nazarbayev further spoke about the existing problems in the country's banking sector.
He instructed to introduce a corresponding draft law to give the National Bank right to a priori check on the state of the bank and all the money transfers that are taking place there.
The head of the National Bank, Daniyar Akishev, in turn, noted that until 2017 the banking sector was slowly solving the problems that have dragged on since the crisis of 2008-2009.
A high level of problem loans, which in 2013 reached 33 percent of the entire ship portfolio of banks required system solutions. However, in most cases the banks took a conservative position. Instead of real recognition of the problems, the banks restructured, retrained borrowers, individual loans were written off, but a major recovery of the balance of the banking system was not carried out.
“Moreover, some market participants continued to pursue a risky policy regarding lending to individuals related to shareholders and management. However, if in the 2000s such activities were financed by borrowed funds from abroad, in recent years - at the expense of the state. State holdings and quasi-public companies now have over 7.2 trillion tenge on accounts with banks,” Akishev said.
Kazakh Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev further briefed the president on the government's efforts to attract foreign direct investment.
The new wave of FDI is coming to Kazakhstan, he said.
“Over the years of independence some $300 billion of foreign direct investment has been attracted to the country. Kazakhstan is the Central Asian leader in that respect. To date, the structure of inflow of investments has changed. As many as 25 percent of foreign investments is channeled into processing industry, and 50 percent - into non-resource sectors. The new wave of foreign investments is coming to the country,” the Kazakh prime minister said.
He stressed that expansion of Tengiz project with $37 billion worth of investments from Chevron is second to none in the world.
“The Government controls implementation of the agreements reached with China, Russia, the U.S., Japan, the Republic of Korea, Iran, Turkey and other countries, on developing industrial facilities worth $50 billion,” Sagintayev said.
He also commended on last year's growth of GDP.
“GDP growth amounted to 4 percent. That result is mainly thanks to non-resource sector. It demonstrates the sustainability of our economy and changes in its structure. Foreign trade turnover grew by 25 percent up to $69.5 billion. Private investment's growth totaled 6.9 percent. Macroeconomic situation improved, where the inflation rate went down,” Sagintayev added.
Kazakh President further touched upon the topic of construction of the fourth refinery.
“The processing of oil and gas is an important direction, we are talking about this. And we will develop this industry. It is necessary and this branch will prevail for a long time. Moreover, the issue of providing the country with fuel arises on a regular basis,” he said.
The Kazakh head of state reminded that three refineries were modernized in Kazakhstan.
“We modernized three refinery plants, the deficit of fuel and lubricants is covered for the next three four years. We start working when the problem caught up with us. Therefore, we are still working on this matter. There was a conversation with our Karachaganak investors. Decision-making on refineries should be accelerated. We see this,” Nazarbayev stressed.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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