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Kazakhstan Strives for a Welfare State

Craft fair in Astana (Courtesy Photo by USAID for education only)

Business handshake in Kazakhstan (Courtesy photo for education only)

Kazakhstan people (Courtesy photo for education only)

Business handshake in Kazakhstan (Courtesy photo for education only)

Business handshake in Kazakhstan (Courtesy photo for education only)

By Radwan Jakeem - NEW YORK – Kazakhstan is moving confidently towards achieving the status of a social state that will match the world-famous “Scandinavian model”. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, presented the country’s new strategy in an address on October 5, 2018. Its main priority is advancing the well-being of citizens, raising income levels and improving the quality of life.

Today, Kazakhstan occupies an admirable 72nd place in Legatum Prosperity Index’s international ranking for social development and citizens’ well-being, rising by 11 positions.

Qualitative changes

The dynamics of Kazakhstan reflects the qualitative changes that have been taking place in the country over the past decades. The country is going to set up a welfare state, aimed primarily at ensuring the well-being of citizens, and then satisfying political ambitions.

This was confirmed by President Nazarbayev in his recent address to the nation. He announced a long list of initiatives that, if successfully implemented, should turn the country into a real social paradise.

Kazakhstan people (Courtesy photo for education only)

Kazakhstan people (Courtesy photo for education only)

Kazakhstan plans a significant increase in spending on education, science and health – and this against the backdrop that developed countries spend 10% of GDP in these areas. Part of the increased spending will go to increase the salaries of medical workers.

Despite the fact that the current model works successfully, approach to education will also undergo a change. Kazakhstan is among the top 35 in world ranking.

However, there is still something to strive for. Future qualified personnel in Kazakhstan will begin to prepare for their assignments right from the kindergarten. All schools will switch to international standards, and universities will be appraised not by the number of teachers or teaching, but by how easily their graduates find jobs.

Good for business

Kazakhstan is providing great support for business development. Conditions for starting a business in Kazakhstan are among the most attractive in the world. Tax amnesties, concessional loans and the lack of audits give young entrepreneurs a valuable opportunity to develop and grow further. At present, the share of small and medium-sized businesses in the country’s GDP is 30%; the Kazakh authorities plan to bring the figure up to 50%.

Craft fair in Astana (Courtesy Photo by USAID for education only)

Craft fair in Astana (Courtesy Photo by USAID for education only)

An increase in the share of Kazakhstan’s GDP will not be triggered by oil revenues alone. The agricultural and manufacturing sectors have been growing in Kazakhstan. In the next three years, Kazakhstan will spend an additional half a billion dollars to develop these areas. In addition, a direct investment fund will be created in the non-primary sector, which will operate on the principle of joint investment with foreign partners.

All these measures will allow to form new stable sources of growth of the Kazakhstan economy, stimulate the inflow of investments and promote freedom of the market.

And this, in turn, will directly affect the welfare of citizens and their level of income: what, in fact, is the ultimate declared goal of all the transformative steps that the Kazakh authorities have initiated.

The stability of the economy, social mobility, universal employment, equal access to education and health care, redistribution of wealth are the hallmarks of Kazakhstan, which is successfully creating its own unique model of the welfare state, taking into account the historical past and the experiences – though modest by world standards – gained in the last 20 years.

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