Priority to innovations
March 04. Kazpravda
By Laura TUSUPBEKOVA
Yesterday, during the governmental hour in the Majilis, Minister of Economy and Budget Planning Erbolat Dossaev reported on the implementation of the President’s state of the national address “Kazakhstan’s way -2050: common goal, common interests, common future” and the prospects for 2014.
The first question from MPs was about measures taken by the competent authorities to prevent rising of commodity prices. As Dossaev noted, this year the saturation of domestic market with socially significant products, control of maximum allowable retail prices for products and the use of stabilization funds is a top priority of the Government. In accordance with the instruction of the head of state given on April 1 to support the incomes of the population, a 10% monthly extra charge will be introduced in the basic salary of civil servants, doctors, teachers and other workers in the public sector. Pensions and state social benefits, social assistance and scholarships will also be raised. In addition, it is planned to develop a draft presidential decree providing for the increase of salaries in civil service of “B” corps by 15 % from 1 July 2015 and in 2016.
Speaking about the current performance of the economy, Dosyaev said that despite the weak global economic growth in the past year, real GDP growth in Kazakhstan was 6%, which corresponds to the target forecast. The GDP per capita amounted to 13 thousand U.S. dollars, which is by 6.7 % higher than in 2012.
– Economic growth was achieved due to the growth of domestic demand, high investment activity and growth of rates in agriculture, engineering and construction industry, – said the head of MEBP.
Meanwhile the deputies were not so optimistic. However, chairman of the house Committee on Finance and Budget Gulzhana Karagusova in her co-report expressed the general opinion and stressed that the ultimate goal of the first phase of this program is to ensure the diversification of economy, reduction of imports, and increase of revenues to the budget and filling the domestic market with high quality domestic goods.
– Unfortunately, she said, we must admit that in 5 years none of these tasks was achieved. We spent a lot of budget money, attracted the funds of investors, and what is the economic effect from implementation of this program? Has anybody analyzed results of the first phase of the program to prevent their recurrence in the second? – she wondered.
According to her, the most advanced technologies in the world must be recouped during this period. In the age of technological revolution, the technological cycle of any equipment is short, and after 4 years it is already outdated, said the deputy. She expressed hope that all this will not be repeated in the second phase of the program.
A similar picture, she said, is in the agricultural sector. The set goal – food independence of the country has not been achieved. – We see mainly imported goods on sale and, unfortunately, the import of agricultural products continues to grow rapidly, – noted Karagisova.
She also raised such problem, as appearance of new programs under the banner of innovation, but with little impact on economic growth and improving the quality of the population’s life. This is primarily research programs, and it is impossible to test their need and usefulness, the MP stated.
The participants of the meeting discussed the measures take by the Government to develop non-cash payments to evade the “shadow” economy. The matter is that the necessary legislation was adopted, because the Government assured MPs that from the technical standpoint, domestic business is ready for such financial arrangements and the banks also expressed interest in this initiative. But the things haven’t budged an inch so far, entrepreneurs express dissatisfaction with the banks’ fees for the use of POS- terminals and as it turned out, there are technical drawbacks.
Dossayev agreed with the criticism, noting that the Government failed to persuade the business to transfer to cashless payments.
– Today we need stimulating factors for the introduction of non-cash payments, – said the minister.
One of such incentives is the ease of tax burden on the businesses working with non-cash payments. And the problem will remain relevant, until the question of POS- terminals’ introduction, for example, in the markets is resolved.
The minister is sure that the introduction of POS-terminals must be profitable for businesses. Then, the banks will reduce their commission. Dossayev promised that the issue of incentives will be resolved within 2-3 months.
Then MPs focused on the development of industry, light industry particularly. They believe that the country has the necessary potential – the base and raw materials to develop this branch to high level. Today the light industry accounts for only 2% of the gross domestic product, while some years ago this figure was 20%. This is the problem, agreed Dossayev. At the same time, he added that a new program to raise domestic light industry is being developed and the funds for the purpose were allocated. He stressed that it is important not only to develop this sector, but also to make its products competitive in both domestic and foreign markets.
MPs raised the questions of privatization, unemployment, problems of efficiency of government agencies. Following the discussion, the parliamentarians adopted relevant recommendations based on the parliamentary comments.