Address by the President of Kazakhstan

On March 31 at 21:00 Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev made a statement on the air of national TV channels on issues related to the state of emergency in the country and the state’s anti-crisis measures in the economy and social sphere.

Dear compatriots!

The situation in the world remains complicated. Nearly 800 thousand people are infected in 177 countries. Dynamics of diseases is growing daily, apparently approaching its peak. The virus is testing the strength of all nations. Kazakhstan was one of the first countries to take the necessary measures. Thanks to the introduction of a state of emergency, we were able to prevent the uncontrolled spread of the virus. Without it, the number of infected people could have been many times larger.

On my instructions, quarantine measures have been strengthened not only in the capital and Almaty, but also in all regions of the country. I thank all the people of Kazakhstan for their understanding, calmness and patience. We will not allow panic, and citizens should support the state in this. Now it is more important than ever. Today, the entire country admires the courage and steadfastness of Kazakhstan’s doctors and medical workers. They are real heroes who save lives.

I have decided on additional measures to support those who are on the front line of the fight against the pandemic. I think that today is the least we can do for our doctors. The police and the military also deserve special thanks. Unfortunately, working and living in an emergency situation always leads to significant economic and social costs.

Many people in Kazakhstan today face great difficulties. We understand that very well. The Government and the mayors have already begun implementing the first package of anti-crisis measures. Realizing the urgency of the situation, I have decided on further steps to support citizens and businesses.

The first one. I instruct you to index pensions and state benefits, including targeted social assistance, by 10% per annum. This means an increase in the incomes of the relevant categories of our citizens for a total of more than 200 billion tenge.

The second. I instruct you to expand the coverage of additional social benefits in the amount of one minimum wage, as I mentioned on 23 March. I believe that this money – 42500 tenge – should be received not only by those who previously had an official job and salary. It is necessary to help our citizens, who were and are self-employed or worked unofficially. To do this, they only need to formalize their status, after which they will receive a monthly social security payment from the state for the entire period of the emergency.

There are reasonable fears that some citizens, having sufficient unofficial income, will still be registered to receive this payment. If you remember, we have already faced such a situation. But because of some unconscious people, we cannot put hundreds of thousands of really needy citizens at risk.

In total, the measures I expressed on March 23 and today will cover about 3 million of our citizens.

Third. I instruct to extend from April 1 to July 1 the right of uninsured citizens to receive medical care in the system of compulsory social health insurance. For this period, the service to citizens in medical institutions should be provided in full, regardless of the status of the participant of the compulsory social insurance system.

Fourth. It is necessary to expand the list of categories of citizens, who should be provided with free food and household sets. Such a package of assistance should be additionally provided to the disabled of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd groups, disabled children and officially registered unemployed. This measure will cover more than 800 thousand people.

And it is necessary to approve the minimum size of such kits in kind. It is important to use local small and medium businesses for production and delivery. The Government needs to involve domestic IT-companies to develop a platform that will provide an effective mechanism for monitoring the targeted spending of social support funds.

In the future, it is necessary to gradually move from kits in kind to transferring funds for independent selection and purchase.

Fifth. It is extremely important to conduct timely spring field work. 70 billion tenge will be allocated from the budget and delivered to farmers through JSC “Agrarian Credit Corporation”. The rate for final borrowers will not exceed 5%. I instruct to allocate an additional 100 billion for these purposes under the program “Economics of Simple Things”. The final rate under this program has been unified across all industries and is 6%.

First of all, it is necessary to support small and medium peasant farms. In addition, I set the Government the task of reducing the price of diesel fuel for agricultural producers to 165 tenge per litre or 15% of the market price. For this purpose, about 390 thousand tons of diesel fuel will be allocated at a reduced price.

I would like to stress that the cheaper fuel should reach the final recipients – farmers. The work of the so-called “operators” through which supplies are made should be absolutely transparent. The Government and the Prosecutor General’s Office should ensure appropriate oversight and control in the regions. There are a number of problems that become more complicated under quarantine conditions – registration of mortgaged property in the Central Election Commission, notarization, purchase of spare parts, etc. Therefore, spring field work issues should be under special supervision of the Government and mayor’s offices. In terms of food security, every day is critical now.

Sixth. Due to quarantine measures introduced around the capital, Almaty and Shymkent cities, there is an excess of able-bodied population, primarily young people. The Government and mayors should immediately launch specific projects in the aforementioned regions within the framework of the Road Map for Employment. People should have a source of income so that they do not sit at closed barriers without a livelihood.

Citizens who are ready to go to work under the “Roadmap for Employment” will be provided with “lifts” at the rate of 2 minimum salary or 85000 tenge as soon as they arrive at the workplace. Not in return, but in addition to regular wages. Mobile recruiting stations will be deployed, where mayor’s offices will conduct explanatory work, express tests for coronavirus, and collect and transport workers to their new place of work.

And, of course, all those employed under the “Business Road Map” employers are obliged to provide decent working conditions and protection means.

Seventh. Earlier I had already announced measures aimed at supporting SMEs. These are tax preferences, deferrals on loan payments, and much more. As for the proposals made by representatives of small and medium-sized businesses. A large number of them have been supported and are already being implemented by government agencies. This applies to the expansion of activities recognized as priorities for government support, reduction and unification of the loan rate, increasing the volume of government guarantees.

The Agency on financial regulation works with banks and other financial organizations on the issue of deferral and restructuring of payments on SME credits. I would like to dwell on this issue separately.

Many entrepreneurs ask to order banks not to charge interest on loans for the period of emergency. It should be understood that for banks it is a lost profit, loss. Banks are also an integral part of our economy. Therefore, I once again appeal to the second-tier banks to show constructivism, civic responsibility and solidarity. In difficult moments for banks, the government has provided them with significant assistance. Now we need support from you for the population and domestic business. At the same time, if necessary, the state can take additional policy measures.

In general, in case of further deterioration of the situation, the Government and financial regulators will take measures to address this issue.

Next. Our entrepreneurs need additional support in terms of reducing the tax burden. This is especially important in terms of maintaining employment and paying salaries. Therefore, for SMEs in the most affected sectors of the economy for 6 months (from April 1 to October 1 this year) is abolished charging and payment of taxes and other payments from the wage fund. These sectors include: catering, selected sectors of trade, transport services, consulting services, IT-sector, hotel business, tourism, etc. The State Commission for emergencies will approve the final list and update it as necessary.

In the appeal of entrepreneurs, I also noted the request for the non-charge of any taxes during the crisis. On this issue I would like to note the following. An expeditious decision was taken, on my instructions, the Government suspended payment of all taxes for SMEs for three months. That is, at the moment the structure is such that no taxes are to be paid during this period, but will have to be paid later.

At the same time, we are carefully studying the situation in the economy. Depending on how it will be, we will make a final decision.

Next. The Government is working with partners in the Eurasian Economic Union to zero import duties for our most important imports. The decision on personal protective equipment, raw materials for their production, vaccines and diagnostic kits has already been made.

Work continues on reducing import duties on a number of food products for which we are not self-sufficient. The Government should ensure that requests from domestic business are taken into account and accelerate this work. It is also crucial to use the potential of local small and medium-sized businesses.

Mayors offices and the Government (through the “State Food Corporation”) should establish a mechanism of guaranteed purchase of products from domestic agricultural and processing companies for at least 6 months in advance, ie introduce the so-called “forward purchase” or “purchase for harvest.

There is a need to define a clear mechanism of integration of enterprises along the entire chain – from the field to the counter and provide them with soft loans. Businesses, in turn, should undertake counter commitments to ensure output, preserve prices, maintain employment, etc.

Eighth. To implement this package of measures, I instruct the Government and the National Bank to use all necessary sources of funds, including the State Social Insurance Fund, resources and instruments of the National Bank.

The resources of the National Fund, established by our First President – Elbasy, should be spent rationally. In order to quickly and accurately bring funds to the real economy, we should not rule out the possibility of direct funding through state development institutions: “Baiterek”, “Agrarian Credit Corporation” and others. This mechanism, along with other preferences, should be aimed at helping medium-sized fast-growing companies with export orientation. These companies can also act as our “locomotives” in the post-crisis period.

Here we go. Given the amount of financial resources and the scale of the anti-crisis measures, the issues of ensuring targeted and efficient spending of allocated funds, adherence to the principles of openness and transparency in providing support to citizens and businesses become particularly important. This task is entrusted to the Accounts Committee. It is also necessary to involve regional audit commissions and public councils in this work.

The special conditions of the state of emergency should be taken into account.

Dear citizens of Kazakhstan!

I understand that life has put each of us in difficult conditions. But the coronavirus epidemic is a temporary phenomenon, and we will certainly defeat it.

The unity and cohesion of our society give us strength and confidence that together we will overcome all difficulties! Separate words of support are addressed to Coronavirus patients.

Do not despair! Despite the danger, this disease is not absolutely fatal, it is curable.

We, the state and society, will do our best to help you.


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