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Highlights from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s speech to the Nur Otan Party Congress on March 11, 2015

Overview

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election taking place on April 26, 2015. The President’s declaration came during the Nur Otan Party XVI Congress in Astana on March 11, 2015. The President used his speech to outline his vision for an ambitious government reform agenda.

Key points from President Nazarbayev’s speech at the Congress

He mentioned that since the previous presidential election in April 2011:

·         the country’s GDP has grown on an average annual rate of 5.7 per cent

·         the population’s income has grown by 43 per cent

·         the amount available for public welfare payments has grown by around 40 per cent

·         the basic state pension has increased by around 80 per cent

·         New reforms allow elections of akims (mayors) in towns and rural counties by local councils, which constitute 91% of all the akims in the country

President Nazarbayev reflected on the challenges facing the country and the region, noting that, among other things, the drop in energy and metals prices have sharply increased economic risks.

The President stated that the main objective for the upcoming years was to avoid these challenges causing a major negative impact on nation building.

To achieve this goal, Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed five institutional reforms:

1.      Formation of a modern, professional and independent public service that ensures high-quality implementation of economic programmes and delivery of public services. To achieve this, President Nazarbayev proposed:

·         Strengthening meritocracy and fighting corruption and nepotism in government

·         Introduction of results-based system of remuneration for civil servants

·         Finding new ways to search for talented candidates for public office, including from the private sector

·         Recruiting international business leaders to positions within the government

 

2.      Strengthening the rule of law, reforming property rights, improving conditions for entrepreneurial activity, as well as protecting contractual obligations. The aim is to ensure that foreign and domestic investors trust Kazakhstan’s justice system. The measures needed include:

·         Toughening qualification criteria for recruitment of judges by introducing a new requirement for a candidate to serve at least five years within the court system, excluding work in other law-related fields, such as notaries, police, law schools, etc.

·         Introducing a one-year trial period for newly-appointed judges

·         Improving the public image of police in order to increase the level of citizen’s trust and cutting corruption through wider use of modern communication technologies and equipping patrolling police officers with means of video fixation (e.g. mini DVRs visibly fixed on uniforms)

·         Improving professional and psychological aspects of the recruitment process for the police force, as well as offering re-training and professional development 

 

3.      Industrialisation and economic growth based on diversification. This should be achieved through:

·         Continuing the implementation of the industrialisation programme in order to provide stable employment and increase the number of middle-class citizens in the country

·         Developing the service sector and increasing the number of small and medium-sized service businesses

·         Updating government support measures for the farming industry, including through implementation of at least ten major projects in deep processing of agricultural commodities with cooperation with transnational corporations

·         Further simplification of tariff systems in the Eurasian Economic Union

·         New programme focused on the development of tourism infrastructure in order to provide more jobs in rural areas; rebranding Kazakhstan as a top tourist destination

·         Continued development of Almaty as a regional financial hub, including through necessary amendments in legislation

 

4.      Shaping a “Nation of Common Future” by:

·         Further strengthening a common Kazakhstan identity based on citizenship and equal rights

·         The idea of Mangilik El (The Eternal Nation) should serve as a system of common civic values

·         Promotion of core values like equality, industriousness, honesty, education, secularism and tolerance

·         Promoting English alongside the state Kazakh language and the Russian language which is also guarantee an official status by the Constitution

·         Ensuring “social lifts” work for all citizens, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, social origin

·         Nurturing a viable middle class as a backbone of a successful nation, which is directly motivated in sustaining the genuine rule of law, modern and valid political, economic and civil institutions in the society.

·         Protecting the religious diversity in a country of 17 different religions

·          

5.      Transparency and accountability of the state. This should be achieved by:

·         Well thought-through changes and reforms, as well as prioritising a strong state and economy to ensure stability in light of the principle “strong state and economy first, politics second”

·         Strengthening accountability in public bodies

·         Increasing transparency and citizens’ participation in decision-making. This will be done through a new law on access to public information.

·         Ensuring participation of the civil society in allocation of local budgets

·         Strengthening the complaints system in order to improve the work of civil servants

·         Transferring powers related for the provision of public services to civil society institutions

Positive results in implementation of the fifth institutional reform can create conditions for introducing a new system of electing local executive bodies. Nursultan Nazarbayev said: “Gradually and in accordance with our traditions, a constitutional reform must be implemented that envisages redistribution of power from the President to the Parliament and the Government.”

President Nazarbayev proposed to establish a National Commission on Modernisation, which will coordinate and ensure the implementation of the aforementioned set of reforms.

President Nazarbayev concluded his speech by noting: “International experience shows that it takes 40 to 50 years of steady progress to achieve a strong, developed and liberal society.”

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Japan©