Kazakh economy to grow in 2009 – minister

Dec 28. Reuters. ASTANA

* Kazakhstan to avoid full-year recession
* Govt under political pressure to report growth – analysts

Kazakh economy to grow in 2009 - ministerKazakhstan’s economy will grow by more than 0.1 percent in 2009, narrowly averting a recession, Economy Minister Bakhyt Sultanov said on Monday.

“We can say with confidence now that we have achieved positive growth… of over 0.1 percent,” Sultanov told reporters, confirming the government’s earlier outlook.

Many economists, including the International Monetary Fund, have forecast a full-year economic contraction in Central Asia’s largest economy dominated by oil and metals and hit hard by the global economic downturn.

Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product contracted by 2.2 percent in January-September but the government has said industrial output is recovering in the fourth quarter.

Some analysts say the government is under political pressure to report a positive full-year figure since an officially recognised recession would put an end to a decade of growth, touted as a major achievement of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“This was not an easy year,” Prime Minister Karim Masimov told a government meeting on the same day. “But under the leadership of the head of state we did well.”