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The government has stepped up its involvement across the economy to respond to the economic crisis and implement its industrial policy. To promote economic diversification it is crucial to maintain a level playing field and fair competition, to avoid distorting market incentives, and to work transparently with private companies. The financial crisis highlighted serious banking system weaknesses, including an over-reliance on foreign wholesale funding and foreign currency loans to unhedged borrowers. This needs to be addressed if the banking sector is to develop into a sustainable source of finance. The government has tackled the crisis through aggressive counter-cyclical policies. The challenge will be to use a more conventional mix of fiscal and monetary policy to return to a sustainable growth path once the impact of the large fiscal stimulus subsides.
Liberalisation and privatisation
The government has extended its influence across the economy. Government involvement has also increased at the firm and industry level, particularly with large employers in the mining, metal and construction sectors. Measures have also been taken to control price increases for various food products and fuel. Negotiations to join the WTO as a customs bloc with Russia and Belarus are planned to start in early 2010.
Business environment and competition
Recent decrease to the tax rates answers one of the main concerns of Kazakh entrepreneurs and brings significant benefits to business climate and development, in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises. Further improvements however are recommended in tackling the corruption issues.
Infrastructure – Power and energy
Over the last year Kazakhstan has increased and diversified its hydrocarbon transit and export capacity. A large segment of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline was completed, leaving the connection from western Kazakhstan to China to be built.
Infrastructure – Transport
Kazakhstan also started to make major investments to upgrade its road and rail infrastructure, including the rehabilitation of the road corridor between western China and western Europe.
In response to the crisis in the banking sector, the government ensured substantial deposits for several large Kazakh banks, while the central bank provided liquidity. The quality of loan portfolios deteriorated rapidly, with a number of banks recording large losses due to real estate exposures, lending to dubious foreign parties, and fraud. An Anti-Money Laundering Law was passed in September 2009.
Last updated 21 April 2010