This is exactly what Kazakhstan seeks to achieve through its recently unveiled the 2050 Strategy. At its heart is a fundamental shift of power and responsibility from central government to entrepreneurs, local governments and individual citizens.
This is an essential part of our efforts to build advanced economy, we are determined to diversify our industrial base and reduce our dependence on the export of oil, gas and other minerals. Kazakhstan is blessed with vast natural resources and lifting the moratorium on new development shows that we recognize the value of those blessings. But natural resources are not infinite. For the future, we must use our raw materials as part of the process of creating hi-tech industries, which have a longer lifespan. In simple terms, we must swap “oil for technology.”
We also need to reduce the bureaucratic and tax burden on businesses looking to invest in Kazakhstan. Within five years, all businesses will move to online tax reporting. This will maximize the benefits of our low tax environment, cut red tape and reduce corruption – all major priorities for the government.
We will also be slashing unnecessary state regulations. As a nation, we score well on global competitiveness, but we are determined to do better. Scrapping burdensome permits and licenses while ensuring businesses are accountable for the quality of the goods and services they produce is the best way to attract investment while protecting the health and security of our citizens.
Decreased government regulation will be matched by shrinking government ownership. The 2050 Strategy outlines our plan to privatize non-strategic assets and services at a rapid, but responsible pace. Rather than ownership, our aim for the government is to create investment climate in which the private sector – and private citizens – can prosper.
The government will continue to play a guiding role, but its focus will shift to setting the right conditions for success such as improving infrastructure, and enhancing private property and contractual rights.
This shift in the role of central government will extend to politics and society as well. In particular, we plan to increase the authority of locally elected governments, which are closest to the people and understand their concerns best.
Greater influence of local government will be coupled with increased democratization and accountability at all levels including strengthening the role of the national Parliament. Our goal is not just to redistribute authority, but to change the balance of responsibility. Local people will have the opportunity to identify local solutions to problems and will better be able to hold to account those they elect to implement them.
But with greater individual opportunity comes greater responsibility. We will guarantee employment training and support, but, in turn, we will expect the individual to make the most of the opportunities provided.
Over the last 21 years, Kazakhstan has successfully grown from an emerging- to a middle-income economy. Our sights are now set on joining the ranks of the world’s 30 most developed countries by 2050. We are also keen to share our thinking on the global stage. Kazakh President Nazarbayev recently proposed the G-Global platform as a means of broadening participation beyond the G-8 and G-20 to address the world’s financial problems.
Kazakhstan’s difficult beginnings are behind us. Our formative years, while not without struggle, have put us on solid footing for future growth. Now, with the 2050 Strategy, we have a clear roadmap for modernizing our economy, harnessing the energies of our citizens and ensuring that Kazakhstan is a competitive player in an increasingly globalized world.
We hope that developing nations seeking direction in these uncertain times will consider the forward-looking reforms in Kazakhstan’s 2050 Strategy to help their citizens reach their full potential.
Tazhin is Kazakhstan’s secretary of State.