Kazakh Econ Minister expects economy to shrink in H1

June 22. Reuters. ASTANA

Kazakh Econ Minister expects economy to shrink in H1Kazakhstan expects the economy to contract by 2.0-2.5 percent in the first half of this year, Economy Minister Bakhyt Sultanov said on Monday, backtracking on an earlier, more positive government forecast.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov said this month he expected economic growth to be positive in the first half of this year.

“The forecast is that the figure for (the first) six months will be negative,” Sultanov told reporters on the sidelines of a business conference. “It will be about 2.0-2.5 percent.”

Sultanov said he expected a return to positive figures only in the second half. He forecast Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would rise by up to 1.0 percent in the whole of 2009 or at least stay flat, compared with growth of 3.2 percent in 2008.

Hit hard by the global economic crisis, Kazakhstan’s oil-dominated economy shrank 2.2 percent in the first quarter. Sultanov said the contraction had widened to 2.7 percent in January-April.

“For the whole year, we think the situation will level out as the funds (allocated to combat the crisis) are spent,” he said.